From the Orchard series , Vol. 1

Enjoy a scoop of ice cream instead.

A slight mystery casts a shadow over New Amity.

Sarah and Lizzie are 11-year-old BFFs in a small New Hampshire town where Lizzie’s family owns an orchard. This summer, to their great delight, they get to run the ice cream stand. If they net $5,000, they will have enough money for their dream: a Halloween zombie hayride. Things start to go awry for Sarah when twins Peter and Olive show up and join the formerly two-person team. Sarah frets constantly that Lizzie will no longer be her friend; sharing is an unwelcome thought. Then a crisis occurs when the ice cream earnings disappear from the safe. Atwood characterizes her cast with descriptive but underdeveloped diversity. Sarah’s grandparents are from Iran, and she has “beige-brown skin.” Lizzie has “pale skin.” The twins have “huge brown eyes, medium-dark-brown skin, and curly hair,” and their two dads are Mr. and Mr. Wu. The whole town is something of a multicultural Platonic ideal. Hakeem observes Ramadan, and Aaron wears an apron that reads “KISS ME, I’M JEWISH.” Sveta and Dani Alvarez are a local power couple. None of the children use cellphones or computers. Readers may very well ponder why a town that holds Sunday morning Community Spirit meetings is so gung-ho to finance a Halloween activity and not a worthy cause. Digitized line drawings introduce each chapter in this first of a series for each season.

Enjoy a scoop of ice cream instead. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9047-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017


However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975


Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean.

A 12-year-old copes with a brain tumor.

Maddie likes potatoes and fake mustaches. Kids at school are nice (except one whom readers will see instantly is a bully); soon they’ll get to perform Shakespeare scenes in a unit they’ve all been looking forward to. But recent dysfunctions in Maddie’s arm and leg mean, stunningly, that she has a brain tumor. She has two surgeries, the first successful, the second taking place after the book’s end, leaving readers hanging. The tumor’s not malignant, but it—or the surgeries—could cause sight loss, personality change, or death. The descriptions of surgery aren’t for the faint of heart. The authors—parents of a real-life Maddie who really had a brain tumor—imbue fictional Maddie’s first-person narration with quirky turns of phrase (“For the love of potatoes!”) and whimsy (she imagines her medical battles as epic fantasy fights and pretends MRI stands for Mustard Rat from Indiana or Mustaches Rock Importantly), but they also portray her as a model sick kid. She’s frightened but never acts out, snaps, or resists. Her most frequent commentary about the tumor, having her skull opened, and the possibility of death is “Boo” or “Super boo.” She even shoulders the bully’s redemption. Maddie and most characters are white; one cringe-inducing hallucinatory surgery dream involves “chanting island natives” and a “witch doctor lady.”

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean. (authors’ note, discussion questions) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62972-330-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Close Quickview