WRITING TO RICHIE

David and his younger brother, Richie, are headed to their new foster home. Although their parents are alive, their mother's stints in asylums and their father's drinking have caused Child Aid to take over their upbringing. They must move often (Child Aid policy doesn't allow children and foster parents to get too attached), but they have always managed to stay together. As they drive, David tells Richie the story of their dream home (loud echoes of Of Mice and Men) where there will be a front porch, a garden for them to play in, and two large beds for them to sleep in. Amazingly, the Birks' house fits the description, down to the treasure box. But Richie doesn't enjoy life with the Birks for long. During lunch at school, he suffers an allergic reaction and dies. Now David is alone, feeling guilty that he couldn't protect Richie from all harm. The Birks get a new foster child, a skinny red-headed girl with a lot of attitude named Ollie. Fearless and brassy, her motto is ``Don't Take Crap.'' She and David become friends. David and the Birks smooth Ollie's edges, and Ollie helps David reclaim Richie's memory. Although Calvert (Bigger, p. 553, etc.) tries to pack too much into this slim novel, honest emotion holds it all together. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-684-19764-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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A HORN FOR LOUIS

Kimmel embroiders one of the several contradictory anecdotes Louis Armstrong told about how he got his first horn into a warm Hanukkah tale with a whiff of old New Orleans. So poor that he sleeps with his Mama and little sister in a pile of quilts on the floor, seven-year-old Louis is proud of his paying job with the Karnofskys, Jewish proprietors of a junkyard. When the old tin horn on which he plays the music that wells out of him is smashed in a mishap, his affectionate employers present him with a spruced-up old cornet as a Hanukkah gift. Remembering his Mama’s dictum, that they always pay their own way rather than accept charity, he tearfully rejects the horn at first—but then works out a deal with kindly Mr. Karnofsky to pay back the horn’s cost. Culminating in a charged encounter between Louis and his idol, “King” Oliver, this simply told episode is punctuated with pointedly explicit lessons, but also animated by the joy Louis takes in hearing and performing his town’s distinctive music. (illustrations not seen) (afterword, glossary) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-83252-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2005

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A BUSY DAY AT THE GARAGE

A rural, pleasantly ramshackle garage is the setting for this lively book. Each spread features the station and its forecourt, with a flurry of activity accompanying each turn of the page: The garage opens up for the day; a bashed-in car arrives; a brief squall soaks a lady, her swain, and their tony convertible. Over it all presides Mr. Fingers, a harmlessly gangsterish type in striped trousers and white jacket. Dupasquier (Andy's Pirate Ship, 1994, etc.) keeps the text quick, simple, and hand-in-glove with the illustrations (``Mick and Mack start to work on Mr. Walker's car. Pete serves the first customer''). These watercolors are equally nimble, deliberately cartoonish in the linework and saturated colors. The front and rear flap covers fold out with an array of questions and puzzles pertaining to the story. Bright, boisterous, fun; for children who take to the format, there are two companion volumes: A Busy Day at the Airport (ISBN 1-56402-591-8) and A Busy Day at the Building Site (592-6). (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56402-590-X

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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