Appealing as a story of school and friendship as well as family.

BIG & LITTLE QUESTIONS

Wren’s school year is off to a rocky start after a summer turned upside down by her parents’ divorce.

Nine-year-old Wren, who is white, as are her parents and most of her friends, doesn’t know quite how to explain her summerlong silence to her best friend, Amber. The gap between them seems to widen when it appears that newcomer Marianna has supplanted Wren for Amber. A transplant to this small Wisconsin town from Seattle, Marianna has an enviable self-assurance and panache, along with an off-putting swagger. Meanwhile Wren is busy trying to hide her situation and make sense of her new schedule, with weekdays at Mom’s and weekends at Dad’s small cabin across the lake. She uses her phone’s dictionary both to define and frame her questions about divorce and family changes. Bowe’s first-person voice for Wren is quietly contemplative, frustrated, and confused by the disruption in her family but also determined to sort out how things will work. It’s a realistic young voice nicely free from snarky irony, and it’s focused on the arts of questioning and paying attention to the answers. Marianna has secrets of her own, and the growing bond between the girls is restorative for each of them as well as for Wren’s friendship with Amber.

Appealing as a story of school and friendship as well as family. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3693-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kathy Dawson/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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