MY DANIEL

Julia Summerwaite, 80, flies east from Nebraska to take her two grandchildren to the American Museum of Natural History, and to tell them about the most significant event in her life, when—during her 12th summer in the 1880's—her brother discovered, on the family farm, the bones of the "brontosaurus" now on display in the museum. And so she does, during a leisurely tour of displays that will be familiar to many readers, as Ellie, 12, listens with rapt attention and much younger Steven runs too free to please the guards. It's a sad tale—brother Daniel was the person Julia most loved in her life, and he did not survive to see his find safely in the hands of the eminent scientist to whom he had written about it; the tale is also suspenseful, since we know almost from the beginning when Daniel's death occurred, but not how. Keeping the dinosaur a secret, especially from another, villainous, collector, provides much of the action; ultimately, the role that collector plays turns out to be different, and even more dramatic, than expected. Though the story of finding the bones and getting them to the museum is sure to interest readers, the carefully wrought characters and their beautifully realized Nebraska setting are the greatest strengths here. Daniel has quietly decided to stay on the struggling farm, turning down a tempting offer of work with paleontologists who recognize his gift for observations; his loyalty to his parents and his affection for his younger sister—and hers for him—are even more poignant as recalled almost 70 years later. An absorbing story.

Pub Date: May 10, 1989

ISBN: 0064403092

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1989

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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