GENTLE’S HOLLER

In her debut for young readers, Madden creates a warmhearted, compelling family drama about the Weems, circa early 1960s. They grow up poor in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, move often and settle in Maggie Valley, a “holler” filled with honeysuckle and wildflowers. Told from the keen-eyed point of view of 11-year-old Livy Two, one of nine children (the tenth, Livy One, died at birth), the story is layered with details of their mountain life, their struggles, crises and day-to-day moments of joy: “I get my songwriting from Daddy, who plans on selling a banjo hit any day now, so we can eat regular.” And there’s humor too. Livy Two is a dreamer, a reader, songwriter/guitar player; she has “an itch in [her] bones to visit exotic lands,” and when it comes to her family, especially her three-year-old sister Gentle, who is diagnosed as blind, she’s a resourceful and generous problem-solver. Though some of the plot elements strain credibility, the graceful, spirited and, above all, sensory richness of the writing make this work stand out. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-670-05998-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

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LUNCH MONEY

Budding billionaire Greg Kenton has a knack for making money and a serious rival. When he issues his first Chunky Comic Book at the beginning of sixth grade, his neighbor and classmate Maura Shaw produces an alternative. Their quarrel draws the attention of the principal, who bans comics from the school. But when they notice all the other commercial messages in their school, they take their cause to the local school committee. Without belaboring his point, Clements takes on product placement in schools and the need for wealth. “Most people can only use one bathroom at a time,” says Greg’s math teacher, Mr. Z. Greg gets the message; middle-grade readers may ignore it in favor of the delightful spectacle of Greg’s ultimate economic success, a pleasing result for the effort this up-and-coming young businessman puts into his work. Clements weaves intriguing information about comic book illustration into this entertaining, smoothly written story. Selznick’s accompanying black-and-white drawings have the appearance of sketches Greg might have made himself. This hits the jackpot. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-86683-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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