DIARY OF A WOULD-BE PRINCESS

To be popular with the “princesses” in her Australian elementary school is not Jillian’s destiny, especially with King-Nerd Nigel and the rest of the “misfits” tagging along. Then to top it off, her teacher reads her daily journal and makes unexpected suggestions about her writing skills—isn’t a diary private?—and unexpected commentary about her life—is there no end to mortification? To be in the thick of things, Jillian tries to be lovely and smart, and then as the pièce de résistance, organizes a party and invites everyone. When even that isn’t enough, she refocuses her life to help that rag-tag group who’ve become her bosom buds with what she can do—read and write, and infect their life with excitement. In the middle of her efforts, her own writing grows from a stunted ramble to the heartfelt record of her fifth year at Flora Heights Primary School. There she exemplifies to her true friends how to handle being chosen last in sports, and “the slings and arrows” of life, with grace. Green injects plenty of humor and turns Jillian’s diary into a meaningful creative training ground for winning a prestigious speaking competition, as well as a turning point for the future of those less able. The writing is lively and fun, a humorous adventure in growing up among Australian schoolmates, family and friends. A mighty inspiring debut. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-58089-166-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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THE TIGER RISING

Themes of freedom and responsibility twine between the lines of this short but heavy novel from the author of Because of Winn-Dixie (2000). Three months after his mother's death, Rob and his father are living in a small-town Florida motel, each nursing sharp, private pain. On the same day Rob has two astonishing encounters: first, he stumbles upon a caged tiger in the woods behind the motel; then he meets Sistine, a new classmate responding to her parents' breakup with ready fists and a big chip on her shoulder. About to burst with his secret, Rob confides in Sistine, who instantly declares that the tiger must be freed. As Rob quickly develops a yen for Sistine's company that gives her plenty of emotional leverage, and the keys to the cage almost literally drop into his hands, credible plotting plainly takes a back seat to character delineation here. And both struggle for visibility beneath a wagonload of symbol and metaphor: the real tiger (and the inevitable recitation of Blake's poem); the cage; Rob's dream of Sistine riding away on the beast's back; a mysterious skin condition on Rob's legs that develops after his mother's death; a series of wooden figurines that he whittles; a larger-than-life African-American housekeeper at the motel who dispenses wisdom with nearly every utterance; and the climax itself, which is signaled from the start. It's all so freighted with layers of significance that, like Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue (2000), Anne Mazer's Oxboy (1995), or, further back, Julia Cunningham's Dorp Dead (1965), it becomes more an exercise in analysis than a living, breathing story. Still, the tiger, "burning bright" with magnificent, feral presence, does make an arresting central image. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0911-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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