The search for personal identity and romance are common themes of many YA novels. In a reveling portrait of two sisters and their ambivalent relationship, this story brings a fresh perspective to the roles of dominance and love, power and weakness in the family. Penny's worship of her smart, popular older sister Cass is extreme; as the baby sister she exists on the excitement of reading Cass' diary and comforting Gary, Cass? steady boyfriend, during the couple's frequent quarrels. Cass, the center of the household, periodically tries to get Penny to work harder on homework and dress in outrageous styles. But Cass does dole out some good advice when she tells Penny, "You can't ever be like somebody else. You have to find out what the real you is and let it all hang out. You have to take a few chances." The trouble begins when Penny, discovering a skill and interest in sewing, develops a romance with Gary after Cass leaves for college. Cass lets Penny clown when the younger girl visits her sister at Harvard to get advice—the Final shattering of Penny's illusions about her "wonder-ful" older sister. When Penny announces her engagement to Gary, Cass blows up and reveals her need for Penny's adoration and praise. Characters are well developed, and the truth that one can't copy another's personality is an important one for teen readers. In her diary in a moment of lucid self-knowledge, Cass writes, "I'm not perfect. I'm arrogant, inconsiderate and intolerant. But I want my life to expand outside of myself I want my work to be more than me." Young readers may not understand the irony of such a selfish character holding such grandiose goals. But it is in the humanity of these characters and their contradictions, as well as their values, that Sachs has made an ordinary story extraordinary.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1986

ISBN: 0192716921

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1986

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet