A fun, fast-paced read that will please zany young readers.

Winsley Walker and Other Flying Objects

In this middle-grade novel, a bookish young girl finds herself plagued with anxiety when her troublemaking grandfather decides to build the world’s smallest passenger plane.

Twelve-year-old Winsley Walker is constantly worrying about her family’s zany antics, which are infamous in the small town of Cross Lanes, West Virginia. Her younger brother, Billy, is constantly getting into mischief at school, and her grandparents, who live next door, don’t exactly provide a calming influence. Her Gramps is the kind of person who drives a flashy turquoise Thunderbird and steals rosebushes from the local cemetery for a Mother’s Day present; after all, “Don’t reckon dead bodies out at Our Eternal Life are going to be getting a whiff of anything, except their own stinkin’ decaying bodies.” By contrast, Winsley prefers to spend her days quietly plowing through piles of books from the local mobile library. When a “You Can Build Anything” catalog arrives in the mail, Gramps determines to build the world’s smallest passenger plane and use it to finally achieve fame and fortune. Winsley develops an anxiety-induced twitch at the thought; she’s willing to do almost anything to thwart his plans so that the whole family doesn’t get kicked out of West Virginia. Debut author Craddock, drawing from her own childhood memories, brings to life a colorful and quirky cast of characters: Stubborn dreamer Gramps and tough, moonshine-swilling Granny are both family members whom many an adventurous child would love to have next door. It’s a shame that the least likable and interesting of the bunch is Winsley herself. Her devotion to respectability and responsibility is so total that she feels less like a preteen girl and more like a wet blanket. At one point she even goes so far as to turn away a delivery of plane-building supplies by telling the deliveryman that Gramps died from choking on a chicken bone. Fortunately, the supporting characters provide enough fun to compensate for her excessive seriousness and help the novel reach a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.

A fun, fast-paced read that will please zany young readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500750527

Page Count: 196

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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