THE WIDE WINDOW

The third book in A Series of Unfortunate Events (The Bad Beginning, 1999, etc.) has all the stuff of its predecessors’ melodrama—bold narration, dark humor, exaggerated emotions and dialogue, humorously stereotypical characters, and an overriding conflict between good and evil. The orphaned Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny, experiencing still more misfortune, are sent to live with their irrationally fearful, grammar-spouting Aunt Josephine in a drafty old house that teeters dangerously above the leech-filled Lake Lachrymose. Here, they encounter Captain Sham who dupes Aunt Josephine but not the Baudelaires. They suspect evil of him, for he is really the villainous Count Olaf, who aims to steal their fortune. Their heroic efforts and a few harrowing escapes make up the giddy, preposterous plot, full of hurricanes and leeches, a peg-legged pirate and a place called Curdled Cave. Children and fortunate adults will relish the good-natured wordplay and the attempts at the heights of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll; the three likable, independent orphans wend their way through modern fairy-tale action in a darkly humorous, look-out- for-the-next-one novel. (b&w illustrations) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 29, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028314-9

Page Count: 214

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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