A thoughtful, beautifully image-laden tale of learning how to appreciate what one has.



The differing worlds of two boys come together in this intriguing novel in poems set in rural Ohio.

Rosen, a talented poet with a penchant for haiku (The Hound Dog’s Haiku, 2011, etc.), here stretches in a more narrative form to show a slightly older crowd that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. The story begins as 13-year-old Perry makes the train trip from his grandmother’s for his weekly visit with his mother. Captured by the farm landscape flying by his window, Perry notes that “Nothing’s for keeps,” and longs for more permanence in what feels like a very transitory life. He is waiting for his father, missing in action in Vietnam, to return; for his sister, who’s left the fold to promote world peace, to respond to his letters; for his mother to finish nursing school so they can resume the life they knew prior to his father’s going to war. Watching that same train, whose tracks bisect his family’s farm, is 9-year-old Steve, who feels trapped by the constancy of his doting parents and farm chores and wishes he could ride that train to exotic locales, recognizing all the while, though, that “coming home has to be a part / of going away.” Cows straying from Steve’s pasture bring the two boys together briefly for a reality check, but mostly the novel’s poems alternate between the voices of these young foils, adding a refreshing immediacy to their intimate reflections on home life and the nature of happiness.

A thoughtful, beautifully image-laden tale of learning how to appreciate what one has. (Poetry. 11 & up)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-863-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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As in their previous collaborations (Colors of Freedom, Voices of Rape, not reviewed), Bode and Mack portray an issue through the voices of children and adults affected by it. Bode (recently deceased) interviewed preteens, their parents, and adult experts, and organized their responses into parts "For Girls and Boys" and "For Parents." In sections with titles like "Public Recognition" or "What's in Your Heart," her text, addressed directly to the reader, synthesizes many of the responses in a way that should comfort and challenge young and adult readers. At least half of the book is comprised of responses she gathered from her survey, some of which are illustrated in strips by Mack. The result is an engagingly designed book, with questions and topics in bold type so that readers can browse for the recognition they may be looking for. They will need to browse, as there is no index, and young readers will certainly be tempted by the "For Parents" section, and vice versa. A bibliography (with two Spanish titles) and list of Web resources (with mostly live links) will help them seek out more information. They may well have other questions—especially having to do with parents' sexuality—which they don't find answered here, but this is a fine and encouraging place to start. (print and on-line resources) (Non-fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-81945-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking.


An accused murderer is thrust into an assassin training program.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere is serving hard time after a hazy night with her former best friend, Rose, which ended with Rose’s body in her lap, an emotional trial, and the media moniker the “Girl from Hell.” After her caseworker, Dave, assures Signal there’s no way she’ll get a successful appeal, he offers her an alternative: being shipped off to a mysterious camp and enrolled in a top-secret government training program unofficially known as the Teen Killers Club. There, Signal and other adolescent Class A felons (the most dangerous kind) undergo various drills—among them, dismembering fake corpses and dissolving flesh in acid—in preparation for eventually being used as assassins against government targets. The teens have been injected with a device remotely controlled by their trainers that will kill them if they attempt to escape the camp or otherwise disobey orders. As Signal nurses an attraction to sensitive tattooed Javier and fights her feelings for handsome sociopath Erik, she begins to piece together what really happened that night with Rose. Sparks crafts a page-turner with a disturbingly unusual premise, snappy dialogue, and characters that go deeper than their heinous crimes. Signal and Erik are assumed White; love interest Javier is cued as Latinx, and there is some diversity in the supporting cast.

A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking. (Thriller. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-229-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Overall, a humorous, thoughtful demonstration that the path to writing isn’t always a straight line.



The Newbery medalist offers a combination memoir and guide for aspiring writers.

As a young boy in 1962, Paul Fleischman, son of children’s author Sid Fleischman, is introduced to a larger world of storytelling with his shortwave radio. Listening to broadcasts from around the world opens him up to cultures beyond white suburban Santa Monica. As part of his father’s research for a book, the family purchases a printing press to be assembled at home, an experience that is an early influence on Paul’s road to becoming an author himself. One of his first experiments as a writer is an outlandish, rogue newspaper he and his fellow classmates produce and distribute under the radar of high school administrators. High school is followed by a spell of wanderlust, including a short stint at UC Berkeley and a bike ride up the West Coast to Vancouver that capriciously lands him first in New England and ultimately in Albuquerque. Vignettes with writing advice, sometimes only tangentially connected to the adjoining chapters, appear sporadically and jar the narrative. Fleischman’s story reads as a remarkably engaging memoir but less successfully as a writing tutorial. At times, cultural references may be lost on younger readers, such as roller derby, Shirley Temple, and Marxism, and they may wish for more context.

Overall, a humorous, thoughtful demonstration that the path to writing isn’t always a straight line. (Memoir. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285745-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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