This slow-moving story that, for all its unconventional elements, may not satisfy readers, stars Petey, a child with a fear of heights. In rural 1944 West Virginia, however, he has no choice but to walk across a high and narrow train trestle to get to school, and he cannot do it alone. All the members of his family are suffering: his sister, Loni, a talented artist who lost an eye a year before in the car crash that killed their father, refuses to return to school; their mother, Alita, still loves and mourns her dead husband. Stone, an artist who takes Loni under his wing, is a psychologically damaged former POW, but he is also the catalyst to pushing the family across a metaphorical trestle. Slate lightens the atmosphere considerably through Alita’s quirky, often incomprehensible language (her favorite expression is “Geeszoy!”), and the family’s journey is one of small, realistic steps: Petey copes with a bully; Alita confronts their tyrannical landlord when he accuses Stone of molesting Loni; Loni get a glass eye; Petey is thereby inspired to conquer his fear. Stone asks Alita to marry him, and the family looks forward to a new life in Seattle—a sweet ending to a story that has a lively narrative style and a loving family at its center. Patient readers will be rewarded. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7614-5053-X

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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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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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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