A sharp, satisfying exploration of some of today’s most controversial topics.


Belle’s debut novel is a quirky alternate history from the perspective of a precocious, politically astute—and pregnant—teenager.

At age 14, Sheila Martin becomes pregnant after she is drugged with Rohypnol and raped at a party. Her conservative, Catholic mother forbids her from getting an abortion. But that’s not the entire story. Her mother’s case is helped by the fact that John McCain won the 2008 election and promptly died in office, leaving his running mate Sarah Palin to become the first woman president of the United States. And although history has been tweaked, Palin’s politics remain as conservative as ever and she helps form a pro-life Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade is overturned, causing anti-abortion trigger laws in several states, including Sheila’s, to go into effect. She endures her pregnancy in one of very few alternatives open to her—the House of Mercy, her state’s government-funded residence for girls in Sheila’s situation. There she meets girls even worse off than she, including an 11-year-old impregnated by her own brother. Sheila liberates the preteen and illegally escorts her across state lines to get an abortion, all with the help of Sheila’s narcoleptic boyfriend and feminist grandmother. On occasion Sheila’s precocity leans toward disingenuousness, but these instances are offset by bright, realistic dialogue and writing that is thoughtfully broad in scope. And although Sheila can seem extraordinarily composed, especially for a girl in the throes of adolescent and pregnancy hormones, throughout she remains an appealing heroine. Belle’s historical and political alterations are recent enough to engage even politically indifferent readers, and her divisive topics (free will, reproductive rights, parental control, how political policy affects even the youngest individuals) are addressed with a diversity of viewpoints and should spark intelligent debate.

A sharp, satisfying exploration of some of today’s most controversial topics.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2011

ISBN: 9780615572543

Page Count: -

Publisher: Creative License

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2011

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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