PENINA LEVINE IS A HARD-BOILED EGG

Life for Penina is becoming more combative. Her bratty four-year-old sister, Mimsy, is continually tattling and getting Penina grounded for inappropriate behavior. Her teacher, Ms. Anderson, is threatening her with a zero when Penina, who is Jewish, has misgivings and refuses to complete a required assignment related to Easter. And best friend Zozo provides very little moral support, and is sure Ms. Anderson will “flunk” Penina for missing three days of school to attend the family Seders out of town. Unwilling to confront her parents, who are already angry with her, Penina confides her problems to Grandma while peeling hard-boiled eggs for the Seder. Grandma quietly intercedes to make sure Penina gets some adult support. Her parents intervene at school to clear up the misunderstanding between a first-year teacher’s misguided good intentions and a sensitive religious issue. Through it all, Penina’s resilience strengthens as her predicament becomes heated much the way an egg hardens as it cooks in hot water. Well-crafted multiple themes are integrated into a captivating, realistic middle-grade novel where conflicts are addressed, if not resolved, in pragmatic and convincing scenarios. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-59643-140-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Deborah Brodie/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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