Twelve-year-old Vincent, “he of the fair skin and the sad eyes, the disheveled hair and the honest smile,” has spent the...

READ REVIEW

THE DYERVILLE TALES

An overwrought fairy tale within a fairy tale.

Twelve-year-old Vincent, “he of the fair skin and the sad eyes, the disheveled hair and the honest smile,” has spent the last two years in an orphanage, ever since the total destruction of his home by a dragon. When the news of his grandfather’s death comes, the orphanage director refuses to let him attend the funeral but does hand him a mysterious book that his grandfather left him. The book recounts the strange adventures of another boy named Vincent, cursed by a witch. From there, chapters alternate between the two stories. Vincent No. 1 runs away to attend the funeral but is foiled by a snowstorm and a gang of murderers; Vincent No. 2 becomes trapped by a giant, escapes on a magical horse and eventually defeats an evil dwarf and then the witch herself—and finds a magical world quite a bit like heaven, too. It seems the real world and the book world are meant to gradually intersect, but the “real” world, with its bleak, Aiken-esque orphanage and marauding dragons, is too unreal for contrast. Fantastic elements appear without warning or logic, and none of the characters ascend beyond stereotypes. The two Vincents in particular seem to react rather than act. The passive, omniscient narration seems designed to throw the affected language into jarring relief.

Pub Date: April 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-199871-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more