LOST!

In this story within a story, a grandmother entertains her granddaughter with a string story when the girl laments the loss of electricity during a storm that eliminates all her usual forms of electronic entertainment. The internal story concerns a girl who goes into a snowstorm to find and bring home her wounded dog. She survives due to her wits and resourcefulness. On each page, a string figure becomes a part of the story, with the figure displayed at the bottom of the page in miniature. The grandmother confides that she was the girl in the story and challenges her granddaughter to think of something to do without the use of electricity. In a nice open-ended finale, the girl is seen starting her own string story. Back matter contains a brief history of string figures (“the handheld video games of their time”), instructions on making a string loop, carefully illustrated step-by-step directions for making each figure, and a bibliography. Fleischman’s (Big Talk, 2000, etc.) figures are new inventions, but require common moves. They build on each other and many of them have potential for movement (the bow “shoots”). The illustrations created in ink on clayboard look like fine etchings and are appropriate to the old-fashioned tale. Unfortunately, a creaky, didactic opening introduces a grandmother whose speech is unbelievably quaint for a 21st-century woman acquainted with modern technology. Nevertheless, this unique book offers several fascinating points of entry and will be enjoyed in many ways. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-5583-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

CORALINE

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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