OUT OF THE STORM

A bright future goes dim when Mandy's father is killed in WWII, and a returning veteran takes her mother's job. They have to move, to cranky Aunt Bess's farm. At first, Mandy doesn't want to fit in, either at her new school, or on the farm, where Aunt Bess tells her to tend the sheep—but her stubbornness begins to melt as she develops affection for the flock, and makes two friends. Still, she pines for her old town and the house her father had always talked of buying. A spring flood and a family crisis develop simultaneously when Mandy's mother proposes buying a local general store with Aunt Bess's lamb money; in a heavy rainstorm, Mandy finds the sheep cut off on a low rise, and must decide whether to prevent the sale by leaving them to their fate, or try a rescue. As it turns out, the water is already too deep, but she keeps the flock together through a long night, and by the time help arrives in the morning, has straightened her priorities. Willis plots a predictable but sturdy story, with a slightly antique flavor and a cast whose good hearts are frequently disguised beneath crusty or careless exteriors. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 27, 1995

ISBN: 0-395-68708-X

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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A patchy tale flickering repeatedly from light to dark and back.

TWAIN'S TREASURE

From the Phantom Files series

Alex’s ability to talk with ghosts puts him in famous company when he and his mom move to Hannibal, Missouri.

Alex, 13, is driven by bitter determination to keep his lifelong ability secret, since it’s already led to a diagnosis of schizophrenia that drove his parents apart and cost his mother a decent job, but it’s not easy. For one thing, his new friend, Bones, is a positively obsessed amateur ghost hunter, and for another, ghosts just won’t leave him alone no matter how rudely he treats them. Notable among the latter is Mark Twain himself, as acerbic and wily as he was in life, who is on the verge of involuntarily degenerating into a raging poltergeist unless Alex can find the unspecified, titular treasure. Alex’s search takes him through Clemens’ writings and tragic private life as well as many of the town’s related attractions on the way to a fiery climax in the public library. Meanwhile, Alex has an apotheosis of his own, deciding that lying to conceal his ability and his unhappy past isn’t worth the sacrifice of a valued friendship. Conveniently for the plot’s needs, Clemens and other ghosts can interact with the physical world at will. Wolfe parlays Alex’s ingrained inability to ignore ectoplasmic accosters into some amusing cross-conversations that help lighten his protagonist’s hard inner tests. The cast, living and otherwise, presents as white.

A patchy tale flickering repeatedly from light to dark and back. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-940924-29-8

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Dreaming Robot

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

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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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