Funny, poignant, and reassuringly upbeat by the end but free of glib platitudes or easy answers.

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SUNNY SIDE UP

From the Sunny series , Vol. 1

Family troubles temporarily strand 10-year-old Sunny in a Florida retirement community. Imagine the recreational possibilities.

In the hands of the sibling creators of Babymouse and Squish, even a story inspired by troubling circumstances in their own mid-1970s childhoods offers hilarious turns aplenty. Instead of a trip to the shore with a friend, Sunny finds herself on a solo flight to stay with her genial grandfather—in a development where a trip to the post office is the day’s big outing, Walt Disney World is hours away, and her exposure to senior culture includes being fawned over by old ladies. Happily, there is one other child around: Buzz, a groundskeeper’s boy, who turns her on to superhero comics and joins her in starting up a moderately lucrative business recovering golf balls and residents’ (illegal) lost cats. Less happily, interspersed flashbacks reveal the reason for the sudden change of plans by tracking her older brother Dale’s increasingly erratic behavior and drug abuse, leading up to an intervention in the wake of a violent incident. Colored by Lark Pien in subdued hues that subtly reflect Sunny’s state of mind, the sequential panels present both storylines in a mix of terse labels, brief dialogue, and, particularly, silent, effective reaction shots.

Funny, poignant, and reassuringly upbeat by the end but free of glib platitudes or easy answers. (afterword) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-74165-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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Flimsily entertaining

THE SECRET OF WHITE STONE GATE

From the Black Hollow Lane series , Vol. 2

An American schoolgirl in a British boarding school battles a secret society in this adventure.

In this trope-y sequel to The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (2019), the students at Wellsworth must stay safe from the evil order that’s been there for generations and still entangles their parents. Emmy, a white, well-to-do Connecticut 12-year-old, is determined to return to Wellsworth even though last year she was nearly killed. The Order of Black Hollow Lane, the mysterious bad guys who are disguised as the school’s Latin Society, want something from Emmy. Her long-lost father, for one, and Emmy’s box of medallions, for another. Why? Do they really need a reason aside from being an evil club full of wickedness determined to find a whole box of MacGuffins that will somehow make them even richer and more powerful or at least propel the plot? In any case the dastardly fiends plague Emmy, framing one of her best friends for theft and leaving cryptic notes and computer files to threaten the lives of Emmy’s loved ones. Though the Order has infiltrated this (nearly all-white, wealthy) school for generations, Emmy must somehow defeat them and save her dad. The quest is peppered with spy-thriller moments that are mostly only thinly sketched and go nowhere, though some (such as a disguise right out of Scooby Doo cartoons) are funny enough to keep the action moving.

Flimsily entertaining . (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6467-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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