Humorous and charming tales with old-fashioned appeal and delightful images.



A collection of new and previously published stories about a girl and her adventures with her real and toy animal friends.

Squirrel Hill is a farmhouse in the country near a small forest called Briar Woo. Madison, the young, white girl who lives there, loves climbing an apple tree and exploring with her friends. These include plush animals—such as a male elephant named Ellie, a monkey called Sergeant Monk-Monk, and Kitty, a cat—as well as living ones. The first three stories here appeared in Clark’s (Just an Ordinary Elephant and The Bald Cardinal, 2018, etc.) two previous books. In these tales, Madison sets out with several pals to cross the forest on an expedition to find North Africa; Ellie wants to be seen as special for wearing a straw hat, but it’s his kindness that makes his friends think he’s “very special indeed.” Kitty, who tends to be self-centered and conceited, finds herself being kind to an unfortunate bird. The new tales start with “Big Audie and The Runt,” in which Madison teaches a bullying raccoon a lesson about sharing. In “A Fly in Kitty’s Whiskers,” she gives Kitty her doll’s eyeglasses to wear “whenever she wanted to look beautiful, or when she wanted to check her whiskers for flies.” In the final story, Madison’s African American friend Kaila has been told there’s a pink dog on Squirrel Hill; they ask around and finally find the canine. Overall, there’s a pleasantly cozy feeling to these stories, and they’re sometimes reminiscent of the works of A.A. Milne, although Clark displays his own distinct style. Although several of the tales here have a clear moral, they’re never blatant, and the author softens the messages by employing several moments of gentle, humane humor. The affection that the various human, animal, and toy characters show for one another is also sweet and endearing throughout. Driver’s (Just an Ordinary Elephant and The Bald Cardinal, 2018, etc.) black-and-white, beautifully shaded pencil illustrations are a plus as well; they portray realistic but very expressive animals, and they capture the magic of Squirrel Hill as a setting.

Humorous and charming tales with old-fashioned appeal and delightful images.

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79885-589-8

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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