WHAT I DID FOR ROMAN

Darcie, 16, seeks her father, Paul, and is befriended by handsome, intriguing Roman during a summer that climaxes with a startling tragedy. With Darcie's mother honeymooning in Europe, Darcie stays with Uncle George and Aunt May, helping out at their zoo restaurant. Taciturn and alcoholic, George is furious at Darcie's curiosity about Paul. Reluctantly, May tells Darcie that Paul was a local boy? a teen-ager as was her mother. Meanwhile, Darcie is fascinated by Roman, a warm, imaginative sealkeeper with a gift for communicating with animals, though his empathy with their captivity and grief when one of them dies border on bizarre. Darcie finds him her one comfort, although, at 28, he scrupulously tries to keep her at arm's length. Still, he helps her find Paul's father and provides solace as she pieces together her sad origins: George had bribed Paul to join the Army; Paul returned the money but went anyway, planning to return and marry Darcie's mother, but was killed. Darcie's feeling for Roman is so strong that she "would do anything for him"; their single kiss is yearningly sweet, but when his favorite seal is killed by a prankster, his ultimate request reveals his dangerous depths. Conrad's characters are so tautly drawn that readers should willingly suspend disbelief at the more melodramatic moments of her plot. The parallel threads of Darcie's quest and her gradual entwinement with Roman, in whose charming vitality a frightening flaw is implied from the beginning, should keep readers enthralled. Darcie's final escape from what has become an evil spell is heart-stopping.

Pub Date: April 1, 1987

ISBN: 0064471640

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987

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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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