BAD GIRLS

The protagonists in this English import by the author of The Lottie Project (1999)—and other books about funny, feisty girls—aren’t the bad girls of the title. That “honor” is reserved for three featured players who are among the rottenest female bullies readers will likely ever have come across in fact or fiction. The two heroines, however, are terrific—by turns funny, heart-warming, and fully deserving of readers’ compassion, for each suffers a lot in her own way. Ten-year-old Mandy White, bespectacled and small for her age, is picked on relentlessly and mercilessly by said trio of tormentors whom readers will want to slap silly. To make matters worse, Mandy’s adoring mother, a first-time parent in late middle age, babies her daughter almost beyond reason. Then into Mandy’s life comes bohemian new neighbor Tanya, an orange-spike-haired free spirit. Tanya is a foster child four years Mandy’s senior who dresses in sequined tops, short shorts, and high-heeled sandals. She also dabbles in occasional shoplifting. She accepts Mandy unconditionally and quickly, and the girls become best friends. While this may not be entirely believable, it’s made plain that Tanya gets along very well with younger children and apparently prefers their company. The novel also hints at very unhappy events in Tanya’s life that help to explain her desperate need for friendship, affection, and a real family life. Sadly, the girls are ultimately parted when Tanya is sent away after a particularly hairy shoplifting escapade. But by that time, the friendship has allowed Mandy to find the strength to learn how to assert herself with her mother, to finally stand up to the bullies, and to accept another true friend in a male classmate. Youngsters will have a jolly good time with these bad, no, great girls in a read that’s fun though sometimes implausible. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-72916-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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THE COLORS OF US

This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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LAUGH-ETERIA

Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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