THE DISTANCE BETWEEN ME AND THE CHERRY TREE

A quiet, philosophical story for thoughtful readers

As she struggles with vision loss, Mafalda takes stock of her gains in this Italian import and debut.

Without her glasses, fifth grader Mafalda sees the world as a mist, a complication of her Stargardt disease, a rare form of macular degeneration. Because the mist will eventually turn into darkness, she keeps a list of “Things I care a lot about (but I won’t be able to do anymore).” In lyrical prose ably translated by Muir, Peretti, who also has Stargardt disease, takes readers through Mafalda’s school year as the preteen tracks the progression of her disease by crossing off the activities she can no longer perform and the decreasing number of steps it takes to reach the schoolyard cherry tree from when she can first see it. Many chapters end with a pleading to Cosimo, the protagonist of Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees, for help. Young readers unfamiliar with this work will still understand Mafalda’s prayerlike requests to this spirited boy who chose to live among the trees and her own decision to live in the cherry tree. The sorrow of imminent darkness is tempered, however, by the girl’s friendships with the school custodian, a Romanian immigrant, and schoolmate Filippo, who lives with his single mother. Both experience their own losses and help Mafalda realize that life goes on with unexpected joys. A minor character is Indian; others are assumed to be white Europeans.

A quiet, philosophical story for thoughtful readers . (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3962-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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