RICH AND FAMOUS IN STARVATION LAKE

ROAD TO READING: MILE 5

Whelan returns to the wintry midwestern locale of Welcome to Starvation Lake (not reviewed) for a tongue-in-cheek tale of fundraising gone awry. The boys and the girls of Starvation Lake Elementary’s fourth grade are working on separate plans to raise money to help defray the cost of an overnight at ecology camp. Since a car wash doesn’t seem practical (it has been snowing for 23 straight days, after all), the boys decide to go with the suggestion of Mark, the undertaker’s son, to offer private viewings of a corpse at 50¢ a head. The girls settle on a candy sale—but making the candy in Stacey’s gloriously neglected kitchen means mixing some decidedly gray chocolate, and similarly unprepossessing ingredients, into an unwashed pot with something nameless in the bottom. Shocking surprises ensue, as Mark’s father, twigging to the boys’ plan, decides to play a little joke, and the candy’s unusual flavor draws an offer from the Love ’Em Candy Company for the recipe—which becomes forever a mystery in the wake of Stacey’s mom’s sudden cleaning spree. Then the local TV news cameras arrive. There’s an air of offhand innocence to these young go-getters that Cravath (Shark Swimathon, 2000, etc.) captures artfully, both in her full-page scenes and an opening portrait gallery. The children come out of the enterprise a little wiser—and, in the end, the snow finally stops too. Young chapter-book readers will chuckle. (Fiction. 9-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-307-26511-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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A BUSY DAY AT THE GARAGE

A rural, pleasantly ramshackle garage is the setting for this lively book. Each spread features the station and its forecourt, with a flurry of activity accompanying each turn of the page: The garage opens up for the day; a bashed-in car arrives; a brief squall soaks a lady, her swain, and their tony convertible. Over it all presides Mr. Fingers, a harmlessly gangsterish type in striped trousers and white jacket. Dupasquier (Andy's Pirate Ship, 1994, etc.) keeps the text quick, simple, and hand-in-glove with the illustrations (``Mick and Mack start to work on Mr. Walker's car. Pete serves the first customer''). These watercolors are equally nimble, deliberately cartoonish in the linework and saturated colors. The front and rear flap covers fold out with an array of questions and puzzles pertaining to the story. Bright, boisterous, fun; for children who take to the format, there are two companion volumes: A Busy Day at the Airport (ISBN 1-56402-591-8) and A Busy Day at the Building Site (592-6). (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56402-590-X

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

THE HANNAH CHRONICLES

THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH HADLEY, GIRL SPY: THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR

Hannah Hadley is a young special agent who must thwart a clear and present danger to the United States in Hoover’s “smart is cool” young adult novel.

Hannah Hadley might seem like most 13-year-old girls. She enjoys painting, playing with her MP3 player and spending time with friends. But that’s where the similarities end. Hadley doubles as Agent 10-1, among the youngest spies drafted into the CIA’s Div Y department. She’s joined in her missions by her 10-pound Shih Tzu, Kiwi (with whom she communicates telepathically), and her best friend Tommie Claire, a blind girl with heightened senses. When duty calls, the group sneaks to a hidden command center located under the floor of Hadley’s art studio. Her current mission, aptly named “Operation Farmer Jones,” takes her to a secluded farmhouse in Canada. There, al-Qaida terrorists have gathered the necessary ingredients for a particularly devastating nuclear warhead that they intend to fire into America. The villains are joined by the Mad Madam of Mayhem, a physicist for hire whom the terrorists force to complete the weapon of mass destruction. With Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series and the ongoing 39 Clues novellas, covert missions and secret plans are the plots of choice in much of today’s fiction for young readers, and references to the famed 007 stories abound in Hoover’s tale. But while the plot feels familiar, Hoover’s use of modern slang—albeit strained at times—and gadgets such as the iTouch appeal to today’s youth. Placing girls in adult situations has been a mainstay since Mildred Wirt Benson first introduced readers to Nancy Drew in The Secret of the Old Clock, but Hannah Hadley is like Nancy Drew on steroids. Both are athletic, score well in their studies and have a measure of popularity. Hadley, however, displays a genius-level intellect and near superhuman abilities in her efforts to roust the terrorists—handy skills for a young teen spy who just so happens to get the best grades in school.

A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0615419688

Page Count: 239

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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