LAYLA, QUEEN OF HEARTS

Layla Elliott and Griffin Silk are best friends, and she’s become a virtual Silk family member. So rather than ask her busy, distracted mom, who never quite hears her, Layla turns to the Silks for help finding an elderly person she can bring to school for Senior Citizens Day. Griffin offers to share his grandma, Nell, since Layla’s own beloved nana died recently. But Nell sees that Layla longs for someone of her own. When their list of Likely Candidates doesn’t pan out, Nell introduces Layla to Miss Amelie. This charming elderly lady remembers some things vividly—such as the mysterious John William she waits for—but forgets who Layla is between visits. Can—should—Layla bring her to school? The theme running through Millard’s Silk family chronicles is the transformative power of empathy. Emotional balm, the source of inspiration and ideas that nourish and enrich the soul, empathy works its magic on everyone, from Miss Amelie to Layla’s impatient mom. Barton’s illustrations gently convey the bonds of affection among the author’s eccentric, engaging characters. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-374-34360-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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