GREAT WRITERS AND KIDS WRITE MYSTERY STORIES

Sleuths eager for less formulaic company than Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys will enjoy this pulse-quickening second collection of collaborations between writers and children (Great Writers and Kids Write Spooky Stories, 1995, not reviewed). A brief introduction by Morgan and Weinberg defines the elements of a good mystery, as well as its many sub-genres (the cozy, the police procedural, etc.), then the fun begins as bodies start to drop. Sharyn McCrumb and her children choose the unlikely setting of an old-age home for a compelling mystery about the disappearance of a child years ago that continues to haunt one of the elderly patients; readers will love the McCrumbs' wry tone, the crusty but endearing geriatric characters, and the memorable and disturbing ending. A similar sense of the sinister charges Ed and son Joe Gorman's tale of the inexplicable rise to popularity of a high school nerd. Scott Turow and daughter Eve offer more of a fairy tale than a whodunnit—a mystery concerning the human heart. Stuart Kaminsky and daughter Lucy play a varying riff on a family's twisted relations, where a mother's seeming devotion leads to the permanent damage of her son. Whether readers go through these contributions front-to-back or pick and choose among them, the collection provides both an opportunity and a motive for diversion. (Short stories. 8+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-87939-0

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1996

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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