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SECRETS OUT!

From the Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine series , Vol. 2

A heartfelt but amusing story about the many challenges of growing up

Picking up where Friendship Over (2014) ends, this illustrated diary-style slice-of-life novel tells the continuing story of 10-year-old Celie Valentine Altman, centering on the all-important middle school topics of friendship and family.

The theme of secrets—finding them, keeping them, and the subtle ethics of these decisions—is a strong choice for Celie’s character, as she can’t stand not knowing what’s going on. She’s also willing to break moral boundaries to find out, spying and reading private correspondence. However, when her addled grandmother accidentally sets her sweater on fire, it’s Celie who tries to hide this important secret from her parents, as she fears her beloved grandmother will be taken away. On the friendship front, Celie’s longtime friend, Lula, has a new friend, Violet, and Celie doesn’t understand why Lula is sharing secrets with Violet rather than her. And at home, Celie struggles with her older sister, Jo, interfering with her privacy and insisting that Jo not keep her ice cream date secret from their parents. Although the issues Celie faces—loss of her best friend, conflicts with her sister, concerns about her cognitively compromised grandmother—are major, the story is in no way heavy, as Celie’s skewed perspective and the diary’s clever illustrations add humor and keep the tone light.

A heartfelt but amusing story about the many challenges of growing up . (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62091-777-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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TUCK EVERLASTING

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

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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MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean.

A 12-year-old copes with a brain tumor.

Maddie likes potatoes and fake mustaches. Kids at school are nice (except one whom readers will see instantly is a bully); soon they’ll get to perform Shakespeare scenes in a unit they’ve all been looking forward to. But recent dysfunctions in Maddie’s arm and leg mean, stunningly, that she has a brain tumor. She has two surgeries, the first successful, the second taking place after the book’s end, leaving readers hanging. The tumor’s not malignant, but it—or the surgeries—could cause sight loss, personality change, or death. The descriptions of surgery aren’t for the faint of heart. The authors—parents of a real-life Maddie who really had a brain tumor—imbue fictional Maddie’s first-person narration with quirky turns of phrase (“For the love of potatoes!”) and whimsy (she imagines her medical battles as epic fantasy fights and pretends MRI stands for Mustard Rat from Indiana or Mustaches Rock Importantly), but they also portray her as a model sick kid. She’s frightened but never acts out, snaps, or resists. Her most frequent commentary about the tumor, having her skull opened, and the possibility of death is “Boo” or “Super boo.” She even shoulders the bully’s redemption. Maddie and most characters are white; one cringe-inducing hallucinatory surgery dream involves “chanting island natives” and a “witch doctor lady.”

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean. (authors’ note, discussion questions) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62972-330-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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