GOODBYE VIETNAM

The experiences of a village family, reluctantly escaping their homeland in a perilous boat trip to Hong Kong. Mai's grandmother, a traditional healer, is threatened with arrest for her ``dangerous superstitions,'' but her father is a mechanic whose skills win a place on the small, overcrowded, rickety craft. The strangers aboard become a community on the long journey, while events en route are representative: a birth; a death; a Tet celebration; the rescue of the sole survivor of another, capsized vessel. In Hong Kong, some of the less able are sent home, but Mai's family, her friend Kim, and Kim's mother (a doctor) are among the lucky ones chosen to go to America. Though the events seem selected to present a typical ordeal, Whelan narrates with eloquence and sympathy, deftly weaving in telling details like the competition between Kim's mother and Mai's grandmother. The conclusion (threatened with deportation, Kim's mother is reprieved in the nick of time) is pat, but appropriate given Whelan's choice of keeping the worst tragedies offstage. By prefacing her novel with thanks to several Vietnamese and the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, Whelan implies that it's based on interviews. An effective plea for a group whose plight, as an afterword notes, continues to worsen. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-82263-1

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1992

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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