This entertaining read leaves some provoking questions unanswered—usefully.

READ REVIEW

MY LIFE AS A CARTOONIST

From the My Life as a… series , Vol. 3

Cartoonist Derek grapples with a perplexing association between disability and bullying in this stand-alone sequel to My Life as a Book (2010) and My Life as a Stuntboy (2011).

Derek has two best friends at school and two beloved critters at home, including Frank, a capuchin monkey who’s practicing family life before training as a service animal. Frank’s the model for Derek’s comic, Super Frank. Drawing’s a fun challenge; reading’s a difficult chore, though the stick-figure cartoons with which Derek illustrates his vocabulary words enliven the margins. Each playful sketch portrays a word from the adjacent paragraph but in an amusingly different context—“ingenious” shows up as a cupcake machine. Derek’s life takes a turn for the worse when transfer-student Umberto targets him. Umberto steals Derek’s cartoon ideas and makes him a “verbal punching bag.” The bullying arc is fairly standard, but the bully isn’t, at least physically: Umberto uses a wheelchair. On one hand, Tashjian creates a real anti-stereotype in this speedy wheeling boy who could (and would) easily crush Derek with a lacrosse stick if teachers weren’t around. However, after the boys bond, Derek’s funny narrative voice (“Frank’s fur is now covered in a helmet of peanut butter”) indulges in a few adult-sounding, rose-colored disability clichés, saying that Umberto possesses “honesty and grace” and “inspires me.”

This entertaining read leaves some provoking questions unanswered—usefully. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9609-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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