MEETING MELANIE

Allie, almost 12, loves her life on Seal Head Island off the coast of Maine, but it promises to be a hard summer. Her lobsterman dad hurt his back, so the family sets up a pie shop, and sends Allie’s younger siblings to the mainland and Aunt Eulalie. Allie is used to summer people and their often fancy ways, but this year, there’s a new girl, Melanie, whose mother won’t let her have any dealings with the working-class “natives.” Melanie has spunk and fire and isn’t about to let her mother have complete control, so the girls begin a bumpy relationship. Melanie’s sister is pregnant, and their mother is trying to keep her hidden and away from the baby’s father—deemed socially unacceptable. Several colorful local characters—a regular summer person who is also a nurse, and a painter, a strange, none-too-clean fellow who can barely speak—play a key role in the action, which plays itself out in fairly predictable fashion. Most of the populace are drawn in simple strokes, but Allie and the island itself are fully realized, rich characters. Questions of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, class distinctions, wealth, and poverty are touched upon, if not wrestled with, and there’s just enough food for thought to keep things interesting. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-34943-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books.

IF YOU COME SOFTLY

In a meditative interracial love story with a wrenching climactic twist, Woodson (The House You Pass on the Way, 1997, etc.) offers an appealing pair of teenagers and plenty of intellectual grist, before ending her story with a senseless act of violence.

Jeremiah and Elisha bond from the moment they collide in the hall of their Manhattan prep school: He’s the only child of celebrity parents; she’s the youngest by ten years in a large family. Not only sharply sensitive to the reactions of those around them, Ellie and Miah also discover depths and complexities in their own intense feelings that connect clearly to their experiences, their social environment, and their own characters. In quiet conversations and encounters, Woodson perceptively explores varieties of love, trust, and friendship, as she develops well-articulated histories for both families. Suddenly Miah, forgetting his father’s warning never to be seen running in a white neighborhood, exuberantly dashes into a park and is shot down by police. The parting thought that, willy-nilly, time moves on will be a colder comfort for stunned readers than it evidently is for Ellie.

Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-23112-9

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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FOOTBALL GENIUS

Sixth-grader Troy White is a one-of-a-kind athlete with the ability to predict which plays any football team will run even before the ball is snapped. However, his mental talents don’t help him crack his youth-league team’s starting lineup (the coach plays his own son at quarterback). Troy dreams of pitching his talent to his beloved Atlanta Falcons, helping them post a winning season. Seemingly an after-school-special waiting to happen, and marked by cinematic writing, this feel-good story has a place in libraries fielding requests for clean and uplifting stories. Touching scenes of underdog Troy wishing he had a father to help him are contrasted with very realistic on-the-field football action, which is not surprising considering that the author is a former NFL player. Many actual players’ names are dropped throughout the story but some, like Randy Moss, may soon switch teams. More than a sports story, romance pops up as Troy nudges star Falcon linebacker Seth Halloway to date Troy’s mother. This light and fast-paced story will appeal to the tween crowd. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-112270-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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