Readers of the series will probably eagerly scoop up another somewhat vanilla-flavored entry.

PLAY IT AGAIN, MALLORY

From the Mallory series , Vol. 20

Like most of the kids in grades four through six in her school, Mallory’s thrilled to hear they’re going to have six weeks of arts electives—until she is assigned the tuba. What’s a girl to do?

Mallory and her classmates can choose among orchestra, drama, ballet or band—Mallory’s third choice. When the dreaded day arrives, Ms. Anderson inexplicably assigns Mallory to play tuba, in spite of her very strong desire to play anything else—not the best way to inspire enthusiasm for musical instruments! Mallory hates it from the first and is caught up in envy of her friends who got their top-choice electives and in embarrassment for the terrible sounds emerging from the tuba. It’s all made worse by her distaste for practice. Naturally, things eventually all work out for the best. Many readers of early chapter books will already be familiar with Mallory since this is the 20th in the series. Slightly stylized but nonetheless evocative black-and-white illustrations accompany the relatively simple text. Mallory’s first-person narration offers an amusing take on her difficult situation but lacks the spirited depth of voices such as Amber Brown’s and Clementine’s. Perhaps due to Mallory’s primarily female audience, all of the dance participants are “ballerinas”; how odd to eliminate the male students from this choice.

Readers of the series will probably eagerly scoop up another somewhat vanilla-flavored entry. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6075-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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

MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE

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. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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