THE VIOLIN MAN

A first novel (for publisher as well as author) begins with a promising scenario: In the 1880's, a fictional Italian boy helps the real Luigi Tarisio find a lost Stradivarius. When the itinerant Luigi (whose vocation is discovering these missing treasures) arrives in the village, he's quickly befriended by young Antonio—who introduces Luigi to various neighbors and helps him figure out who might have the instrument, the marvelous tone of which still lingers in a local tale. Unfortunately, the textbook style here combines with stock characters who are prone to remarks like, ``I'm a poor widow...I have nothing but a sad heart.'' There are few details to lend a sense of place or of village life: Antonio's father complains about his daydreaming on page one, but we never discover what he might have been doing instead. ``Midday isn't the time to visit someone''—but why not? The language is clichÇd and sometimes careless: what color is ``tarnished gold''? This harmless mystery does introduce some historical facts; but it's oversimplistic, and Hooper fails to realize its unusual setting. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 1-878093-79-7

Page Count: 70

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Preposterous situations and farcical sound-alike sentences will elicit groans and giggles.

NO READING ALLOWED

THE WORST READ-ALOUD BOOK EVER

Homophones in versatile parallel sentences create absurd scenarios.

The pattern is simple but endlessly funny: Two sentences, each illustrated, sound the same but are differentiated by their use of homophones. On the verso of the opening spread a cartoon restaurant scene shows a diner lifting a plate of spaghetti and meatballs to a waiter who removes a dark hair from the plate of noodles: “The hair came forth.” (Both figures have brown skin.) Opposite, the scene shows a race with a tortoise at the finish line while a hare trails the tortoise, a snake, and a snail: “The hare came fourth.” The humorous line drawings feature an array of humans, animals, and monsters and provide support and context to the sentences, however bizarre they may seem. New vocabulary is constantly introduced, as is the idea that spelling and punctuation can alter meaning. Some pairings get quite sophisticated; others are rather forced. “The barred man looted the establishment. / The bard man luted the establishment” stretches the concept, paralleling barred with bard as adjectives and looted with luted as verbs. The former is an orange-jumpsuited White prisoner in a cell; the other, a brown-skinned musician strumming a lute for a racially diverse group of dancers. Poetic license may allow for luted, though the word lute is glaringly missing from the detailed glossary.

Preposterous situations and farcical sound-alike sentences will elicit groans and giggles. (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72820-659-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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