Neither Rob’s guilt pangs nor Pinocula’s near reversion to wood add much force to the superficial anti-lying message, and...

PINOCULA

From the Creature from My Closet series , Vol. 3

Occasional yuks and hints of an overarching plotline at the end aren’t enough to keep this phoned-in entry in a Wimpy Kid–knockoff series above ground.

Following misadventures with Wonkenstein (2011) and Potterwookiee (2012), Rob takes the third literary-mashup action figure to emerge from his closet in stride. This is particularly easy, as, aside from one school visit, the hybrid marionette/vampire is a reclusive wood biter who prefers to hide out in an empty house and turns more puppetlike with every compulsive fib. Meanwhile, Rob comments at length on the foibles of his weird family and friends just as he did in previous episodes and joins a book club that improbably reads Pinocchio aloud in just one session (he gets through Dracula with similar alacrity). Thanks to a mouth with a mind of its own, he also invites heartthrob neighbor Janae and 10 other schoolmates to ride to the upcoming middle school dance in a nonexistent limo. Delivered in journal entries with dialogue and punch lines mouthed by the line-drawn cartoon figures on every page, Rob’s narrative ambles its way past a parental save (his dad unexpectedly drives up in a rented limo) to an abject general apology. Refreshed by a short burial in the park, Pinocula then returns to the magic closet, leaving behind his bat/cricket sidekick as a memento.

Neither Rob’s guilt pangs nor Pinocula’s near reversion to wood add much force to the superficial anti-lying message, and the premise, third time through, has gone as stale as the jokes. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9689-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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

TUCK EVERLASTING

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

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

MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE

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. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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