THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE

Park’s extended rumination has the power to bring us home.

A poetic exploration of middle-grade values.

Newbery Medalist Park presents a provocative collection of narrative poems inspired by sijo, a 14th-century Korean syllabic verse form. Teacher Ms. Chang poses to her class a variation of the timeless desert-island question: “Imagine that your home is on fire,” and, while family and pets are spared, “you’re allowed to save one thing.” Chang’s students react well to this “good homework,” sharing with their classmates a multitude of objects they’d protect from the hypothetical flames. Some choose eminently practical items like a cellphone (“somebody’s gotta call 9-1-1, right?”) and “MY DAD’S WALLET. DUH” (because “if a fire burns everything up, you’re gonna need money. A lot”). Other treasures reflect differing levels of maturity and self- involvement: a mother’s insulin kit, a rug to smother flames, sneakers like “Jeremy Lin wore when he scored thirty-eight points / against the Lakers” and for which the student had saved pennies for months, a “muddy blue” sweater May’s father’s mother had knit for her father that her other grandmother then unraveled and reknit for her. Coupled with debut illustrator Sae-Heng’s accessible grayscale sketches of the objects, often in situ, Park’s subjects’ mementos offer middle-grade readers much food for thought regarding what one values and how others can touch one’s life. Names and other details indicate a diverse class. A note on sijo concludes the volume.

Park’s extended rumination has the power to bring us home. (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-51513-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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