Liz was hardly more than a child herself when her daughter Tallahassee was born; 12 years later she still thinks like a teen-ager, a bitter fact that her daughter finally accepts after her first winter away from her. After Liz's parents' death in a plane crash, she lived with her older brother, Dan, till she quarreled with his wife, Thelma, and ran away to Florida to bear an out-of-wedlock child. Tallahassee has known a series of Liz's waitressing jobs and boyfriends; now Liz abandons her, as she has them, as she did the inconvenient cat. She sends Tallahassee to Dan in conventional suburban Maryland and goes off to Hollywood with a new boyfriend who promises film contacts. Sure she'll be sent for any day, Tallahassee skimps on school assignments and gets into outright war with Aunt Thelma. But she does learn to love Uncle Dan, make friends with the girl next door, and find an unexpected paternal grandmother. Hahn tells her story with enough skill to rivet attention; Tallahassee is a complex, spunky, likable character. Others are less completely drawn, insufficiently believable to support the plot. Thelma's unmitigated rancor toward Liz's daughter is (unfortunately) plausible, but her sudden turnaround after Tallahassee's abortive attempt to run away is not. And if Dan is as nice as his remarks to Tallahassee imply, why is he so long oblivious to his wife's persecution of her? When Liz turns up briefly with still another boyfriend, we know Tallahassee already has more maturity than Liz and will make a place for herself in her new home. Despite its flaws, a page-turner with a well-drawn protagonist.

Pub Date: March 23, 1987

ISBN: 0618752463

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Positively refreshing.


A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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