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CHICKEN SOUP, BOOTS

Other authors have asked children to consider what they'll do with their lives, but never like this. ``You were not. Now you is...And in between eating chocolate licorice and jumping on a pogo stick, you will find your job. Your work. Your it. Your you. It's true.'' With less interest in work's necessity than in its infinite variety and satisfactions, Kalman—in her own inimitable fashion- -presents a gallery of neighborhood characters—among them, Leopold Leitner, office peddler, who always has something different in his suitcase; cousin Harriet's father Eddie, who sits in a wheelchair at the piano and composes songs like the famous ``Bubba Bubba Bubba''; a sister who also sits at the piano, playing ``FÅr Elise'' until ``even the fruit on the table was screaming for her to stop''; cousin Venezuela Katz the astronomer; and Lois Mungay, who fights fires because she hates them, and ``takes twelve seconds from bed to truck'' when the alarm sounds. Kalman's frenzied, relentlessly verbal stream-of-consciousness is enhanced by the large blocks of boldface in a dazzling array of sophisticated colors harmonizing with the high-energy, superficially childlike art (flat figures, deceptively random-seeming compositions, large brush strokes, bright, contrasting colors), offering a series of wonderfully individual portraits. A tour de force, less self- indulgent (and less hilarious) than her ``Max'' books, and with broader appeal. (Picture book. 8+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-85201-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1993

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FRINDLE

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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CORALINE

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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