IZZY’S PLACE

Unbalanced by his parent’s constant loud arguments, Henry can’t stop screaming; the psychiatrist validates his behavior, but agrees that a summer with his grandmother would be therapeutic. Henry’s inner turmoil finds no solace, because his beloved grandfather has died recently and his Grandmother’s overprotectiveness is not comforting. From his elderly neighbor, who exemplifies a quiet dignity in the face of family tragedy, Henry learns that sorrow can be managed. As he learns to calm himself by juggling, he recognizes that Mr. Fine channels his sorrow through violin practice in a one-room shed dedicated to the memory of his dead son. Henry begins to shake off his depression, as he learns that his efforts make a positive difference in his own life. Character-driven, Henry’s acceptance of what he can’t change will bring hope to those who feel their home lives are out of control. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-84639-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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HOW TO BE COOL IN THE THIRD GRADE

Robbie's somewhat overstated aim is to create a new image for himself by taking steps like avoiding his mother's company on the way to the bus stop each morning, trading in his superhero underwear for plain white, and getting jeans. If his goals seem small and unassuming, so is Robbie; and his solutions—in one instance, simply asking his mother for what he wants instead of expecting her to mind-read—are ingenuously on target. But though Duffey is well tuned in to third-grade cool, she includes a stereotypical bully, held back a year and ready to tangle with anyone who looks at him the wrong way; worse, references to coolness and what kind of year Robbie is having are annoyingly repetitious. Nevertheless, modest aspirations mean modest rewards: readers Robbie's age will be glad to find their own concerns on nearly every page. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-84798-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1993

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