CHANCEY OF THE MAURY RIVER

From the Horses of the Maury River series

There’s a reason Black Beauty has been abridged so many times: The language of the original is old-fashioned, stilted and frankly boring. Chancey, who often seems to be channeling his old mentor Beauty, suffers from the same problem, though happily his story is serviceable. Once past the confusing beginning, in which Chancey, destined for greatness, is abandoned in a field, the story finds not one heart but several: Claire, a sad and lonely child; her understanding mother; Trevor, a child dying of cancer; and finally Chancey himself, who learns his purpose in the world while gradually succumbing to blindness. The antiquated cadences of Chancey’s voice, which offers such jarring sentences as, “Drawing upon my Appaloosa genetics, I calmly accepted the discomfort, for I knew that no one around me wished me any harm,” confers in the end a kind of touching dignity to the story. The question is whether readers will make it that far. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3439-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. 

Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. 

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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