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TREE. TABLE. BOOK.

A tale of intergenerational bonding that may resonate with adult readers but will leave youngsters cold.

In the Newbery-winning author’s latest, a girl grapples with a beloved elder’s dementia.

Eleven-year-old Sophia (who goes by Sophie) Henry Winslow’s best friend is Sophie Gershowitz, her 88-year-old neighbor. Sophie Gershowitz’s adult son is concerned with her cognitive decline and thinks it may be time for her to move to an assisted living facility. The younger Sophie decides to prepare her friend for the cognitive tests so she’ll pass them and be able to stay. When Sophie Gershowitz struggles to recall three words—tree, table, book—Sophie Winslow invites her to recall related childhood stories in the hopes that it will help. Sophie Gershowitz shares slice-of-life tales from her girlhood in Poland before revealing how everything changed when World War II began. Sophie Winslow reflects: “I had never really got it, never understood history, how things fit together, because I needed someone to tell me the stories…of how things are lost, and what that means and how it hurts.” While the explanation of historical events is age-appropriate and at times compelling, the book feels more geared toward an adult sensibility than a child’s. The pacing is slow, and young Sophie’s storyline seems like an overly padded, self-conscious framing device. The protagonist is a quirk-filled bundle of idiosyncrasies; Lowry aims for precocious but sometimes stumbles into pretentious and judgmental, particularly with young Sophie’s attitudes toward her friend Ralphie’s love of junk food. Physical descriptions of characters are minimal.

A tale of intergenerational bonding that may resonate with adult readers but will leave youngsters cold. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9780063299504

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

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

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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

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  • National Book Award Winner


  • Newbery Honor Book


  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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