This portrayal of a rarely visited group enjoys mixed success.

MEGAN'S YEAR

AN IRISH TRAVELER'S STORY

The road less traveled makes for a difficult path for an itinerant family.

 
Ten-year-old Megan and her relatives move their caravan as work demands. Options to feed their boisterous clan turn scarce with the end of summer, and these Irish Travelers sacrifice freedom for the restrictions—but opportunities—Dublin provides. Those outside of their close-knit society (negatively referred to as “buffers,” who in turn refer to the Travelers as "tinkers") bully Megan, though she receives compassion from her teacher, Sister Joseph. Conflict builds slightly as the older siblings question whether to embrace or reject their familiar way of life. The text varies in effectiveness; lengthy paragraphs at times plod through this tumultuous year. Striking reflections, however, yield startling insights into their lives: “If we're hungry there's a building where you ride an elevator to an office and they give you money for food.” Traditional slang scattered within the narration separates Megan's experience from those in mainstream culture. Peck's lush, rural landscapes prove most effective. Too often, characters’ lids cover their eyes, and little is done to paint individual personalities. The brief author's note and glossary hints at the historical strife surrounding this disenfranchised community. 

This portrayal of a rarely visited group enjoys mixed success. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-449-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

WAYS TO GROW LOVE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...

HONEY

Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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