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A GIRL'S ABSOLUTELY INDISPENSABLE GUIDE TO DIVORCE AND STEPFAMILIES

A down-to-earth, practical advice manual gleaned from readers’ letters to American Girl, asking for advice about divorce. With “one out of every two marriages in America ends in divorce,” readers are told that, if it happens in their families, the most important thing they can do is to “talk.” Beginning with the split-up and explaining how divorce works, this guide discusses the problems: wishful thinking (that parents will reunite), the one girl/two homes tug-of-war, stepparents, and stepfamilies. Holyoke’s tone is one of love and understanding’she validates the hurt and confusion while giving wise advice on how to deal with the pain and how then to move on. Interspersed with the text are quizzes (which, unfortunately for institutions, ask readers to “circle” and “check” their answers); the answers offer insight into all sorts of situations. A savvy, simple book that will become a must for some girls of divorcing parents. (further reading) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56247-749-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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THE PARTY

A girl and her sister start off rather glumly in the back seat of the car, leaving all their friends behind, because they are off to a family party. When they arrive, they are kissed by Aunt Joan—the worst—and then there is more kissing and a bunch of cousins just hanging around. But the kids start sharing war stories (hair cuts, lost teeth, split lips) and playing shark on the lawn; there are hideouts under Uncle John’s chair and potato-chip thievery; and then there is all that food beloved of family gatherings, for it is Gran’s birthday. At the end, of course, no one wants to go home. In sprightly rhyme, Reid captures the range of experience, from initial wariness to high hilarity, present at parties full of relatives. Her illustrations, done in painted Plasticine on board, have a wonderful texture, making a Hawaiian shirt, three-bean salad, and Mary Jane shoes pop out of the page. A treat. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-97801-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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THE BIRTHDAY ROOM

Henkes (Sun and Spoon, 1997, etc.) peoples this oblique tale of a family healing an extended rift with his usual cast of disarming characters. Ben doesn’t remember the shop accident in which he lost a finger ten years before, nor Uncle Ian, his baby-sitter at the time, who dropped out of touch soon afterward; when an invitation from Ian to pay a visit comes out of the blue, Ben is intrigued enough to persuade his still-angry mother to take him. Ian, as it turns out, lives in apple and peach orchards with an expectant wife and neighbors who include lively five-year-old twins Kale and Elka, and their older sister, Lynnie. Sharing baby-sitting duties, Ben and Lynnie hit it off instantly. Amid quiet discussions about blame and guilt the author gives everyone immediate worries; a sonogram shows the baby in a breech position, and, following a casual remark of Ben’s, Kale climbs a tree and then falls, breaking an arm and a leg. The story is constructed of deft characterizations and pleasing, unforced symmetries. Ben’s remorse for being at least indirectly responsible for a child’s injury, of course, echoes Ian’s, but other parallels spin out and curve back toward resolution. It’s a beguiling story, with near tragedies, happy endings, and clear insight into the hearts of adults and children. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16733-0

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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