FORGIVE THE RIVER, FORGIVE THE SKY

In a patchy but engaging short novel, a child cures a hurt of her own by battering down the emotional walls an injured man has erected around himself. A year after her father died of a heart attack while fishing in his beloved river, Lily watches fences going up around her former home, and resolves that they won’t keep her out. She loves—and blames—the river, and finds, in the house’s new owner, someone who is just as ambivalent about the sky: Paraplegic ex-test pilot T.R. Tracy considered the sky safe before a crash robbed him of the use of his legs. Lily ignores T.R.’s attempts to fend her off, and they quickly become friends. Although Lily doesn’t make T.R. a “project,” readers will understand how she draws him out of his self-imposed shell; on the other hand, a string of activities with her friend Laura is only weakly connected to the main story, and T.R., though wheelchair-bound, gets around with suspicious ease. The supporting characters are sketchy, but Lily is as irresistible as a force of nature, and the northern Michigan setting has almost as much presence. In the end, T.R. accepts an offer to test aircraft adapted for disabled pilots, and Lily discovers that her grief is no longer quite so sharp. The story never really comes together, but readers will appreciate Lily’s take- no-prisoners style of dealing with adults. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8028-5155-X

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1998

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THE RIGHT-UNDER CLUB

Summertime finds a strange combination of five middle-schoolers high up in a leafy tree house in their newly formed support group, the “R.U. Club,” where the secret is what “R.U.” means and what they do in the club. They could not be more unlike one another and yet each deeply understands what it is like to live in a new family because of death or divorce: They feel like leftovers, “even though we are right under their noses.” Each one takes a turn to describe her concern or worry. Anonymously, in written suggestions and then in group brainstorming sessions, they discuss solutions. Then as the girls put their trust in collective wisdom and thoughtfully apply effort and action through careful heartfelt adherence to club rules, camaraderie develops. Mounting interest in the characters and their adjustments to family life builds to a too-sweet conclusion, which could be redressed in a sequel, yet five genuine multifaceted characters together with their families make a large cast of characters. which Deriso handles adeptly. An interesting group that begs for a sequel. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-73334-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district.

A FRIENDLY TOWN THAT'S ALMOST ALWAYS BY THE OCEAN!

From the Secrets of Topsea series , Vol. 1

A fifth-grader struggles to fit in after he and his recently widowed mother move to a decidedly oddball new town.

As if the seemingly infinite pier, the lighthouse in the middle of town, and the beach teeming with enigmatic cats aren’t strange enough, Davy Jones discovers that his school locker has been relocated to the deep end of the swimming pool, his lunchtime fries are delivered by a “spudzooka,” and no one seems to be able to get his name right. On the other hand, his classmates welcome him, and in next to no time he’s breaking into an abandoned arcade to play pinball against a ghost, helping track down a pet pig gone missing on Gravity Maintenance Day, and like adventures that, often as not, take sinister swerves before edging back to the merely peculiar. Point-of-view duties pass freely from character to character, and chapters are punctuated with extracts from the Topsea School Gazette (“Today’s Seaweed Level: Medium-high and feisty”), bulletins on such topics as the safe handling of rubber ducks, and background notes on, for instance, the five local seasons, giving the narrative a pleasantly loose-jointed feel. Davy presents as white, but several other central cast members are specifically described as dark- or light-skinned and are so depicted in the frequent line drawings; one has two moms.

A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-00005-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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