This well-meant effort is a touching story of the white-savior variety, but it also raises some provocative social questions...

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AN INVISIBLE THREAD CHRISTMAS STORY

Adapted from the bestselling book of the same title for adults (2011), this abridged version presents the true story of a friendship between an impoverished African-American boy and a young white woman who becomes his mentor.

The boy, Maurice, narrates this relatively lengthy story of his budding friendship with Laura, a professional woman working in an unnamed big city. He first meets Laura when he asks her for spare change and she buys him dinner. Maurice explains that he doesn’t have enough to eat at home. This leads to regular weekly dinners with Laura, visits to her apartment, and a Christmas visit to Laura’s extended family. Maurice enjoys the big family’s holiday celebration, and he receives all the presents on his Christmas list. He hopes that someday he will have his own big family like Laura’s. In a sentimental conclusion, Maurice gives Laura his white teddy bear, the only Christmas present he had ever previously received. Evocative illustrations in pencil and watercolor bring the holiday celebrations to life with a wide variety of perspectives and illustration sizes. The final pages include two author’s notes and one from the real Maurice.

This well-meant effort is a touching story of the white-savior variety, but it also raises some provocative social questions without ever answering them satisfactorily. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1930-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...

HONEY

Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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