An inspiring children’s book about reaching for one’s dreams.


Dancing Cancer

First-time author McDonald, a three-time cancer survivor, crafts an uplifting children’s story that aims to give hope and inspiration to young people dealing with cancer.

A grandmother tells her life story to her grandchildren in this optimistic book about finding one’s purpose while fighting a dangerous illness. The story is simple and easy to understand, and there’s a quiet artfulness to Nana’s voice. At one point, she tells how she found out that she had cancer for the first time, when she was 3 years old: “[The doctor] felt my tummy and said, ‘You have a Wilms tumor and need to have an operation....But this was a long time ago, and no one ever said the word ‘cancer’ or talked about it. I was just told I had a tumor and its name was Wilms.” But although she receives treatment and spends significant time in the hospital, it never deters her from setting out to do what she wants to do—dance. Nana also finds strength and comfort in religion, which plays a big role in her recovery. The cancer returns when Nana is a young woman, but she has already achieved her goal of a dancing career and has traveled in Europe and started a family; once again, her faith and perseverance keep her spirits up. Now that she’s an old woman, Nana says, the cancer has returned for a third time, but she wants to make sure that her grandchildren know that no matter what obstacles life sets in front of them, they should never let it get them down. McDonald’s prose doesn’t shy away from the reality and danger of cancer, but it isn’t glum. This inspiring story and the bright, happy illustrations are likely to appeal to even very young children.

An inspiring children’s book about reaching for one’s dreams.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-1449066161

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2013

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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