Despite a few flaws, this tale offers some worthy anti-bullying pointers.



A bullied girl discovers a monster and her own courage in this debut illustrated children’s book.

When blue-skinned kids team up at the beach for a school sand castle competition, June gets left out. Though sad, she decides to work on her own. Bill, a strutting bully, insults June’s castle and stomps it flat. Others, including adults, just tell June to ignore him and toughen up. “Nobody likes you,” Bill tells June, and she believes him. She flees the competition, but Jonas, a kind classmate, follows to let her know he’s on her side. After some cloud watching, they hear a bird’s distress call and follow it to a garbage heap with a sign reading “TRASH-MONSTER. BEWARE!” A seagull is being held captive by the monster, Skull, but the children tell the bird: “Bullying is unacceptable!” Inspired and emboldened, the seagull stands up to Skull, who backs down when faced with the three acting together. Skull apologizes, saying he was treated like garbage and doesn’t know any other way. He is advised to let go of the past and start doing good deeds. He agrees and the four, bolstered by new self-worth, have an adventure in a ship created by Skull. Returning to the sand castle competition with her new friends, June stands up to Bill with confidence in herself, and he backs down. In her book, Agudelo adds to the growing children’s literature on bullying. The useful advice here covers basics like developing self-esteem, being a good bystander (like Jonas), forming a united front against bullies, and firmly standing up for yourself. Many experts also recommend getting adult intervention. But (perhaps realistically) the adults here seem inclined to let Bill be Bill. It’s less realistic that Skull turns on a dime to become a good friend. The story is told in rhyme, but the rhythm can be rocky (“Nearby, her peers teamed up in groups of two or more, / for a school art competition / to sculpt a unique sand castle on the shore”). In addition, there are some infelicities, such as rhyming “sight” and “site” and “he said with despise.” The watercolor images by debut illustrator Restrepo have a lot of expression, style, and verve, and do much to expand the storytelling.

Despite a few flaws, this tale offers some worthy anti-bullying pointers.

Pub Date: June 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9983011-2-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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