Warmhearted and compelling.

THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD

Isabel discovers an astonishing secret—one that has the power to change everything—about the old orchard next to her house.

Narrator Isabel, known as Isa to her family, is 12, solitary, and somewhat angry. Her parents are so consumed by her 6-year-old sister Junie’s battle with kidney cancer that they seem to have all but forgotten Isa, who feels invisible. And Isa misses the one person, Junie, who she has decided would be her only friend. Multiple moves (nine in her 12 years) have made Isa determined to protect herself from saying goodbye to friends when she is uprooted again. But now her family lives in a house, away from the city, for the first time. Melwick Orchard hadn’t produced apples in years when Isa’s family arrived, but an oddly behaved squirrel and a sapling that grows overnight into a luminous-barked, silvery-blue–leafed tree produce something special for Isa when she needs it most. Caprara’s principal characters—all seem to be white—are likable, and the worries of a family caught up in overwhelming circumstances are sympathetically portrayed. Junie is a precocious wordsmith, and Isa’s exuberant neighbor, Kira, becomes a friend to Isa just when she needs one. The magic in the orchard is low-key, charming, and convincing, and the happy ending, only partly dependent on magic, is equally believable.

Warmhearted and compelling. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-6687-4

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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