SARAH SIMPSON’S RULES FOR LIVING

Twelve-year-old Sarah Simpson joins a long list of modern-day tweens buried under negative feelings about their parents’ recent divorce, feeling jilted by a father who has moved across the country with his new young wife. Encouraged to keep a journal, Sarah’s immediate self-description—“I have orange hair and I am fat”—introduces her poor self-image and feelings of rejection as she tries to follow her own “Rules,” which include drinking skim milk and avoiding blondes. Sarah’s unhappiness is displayed through her deadpan, stilted account of life creating numerous lists of cynical and gloomy statements. Themes of inner vs. outer beauty are paralleled with Sarah’s mother’s easy acceptance of her broken marriage remedied by her new and happy relationship with relaxed, environmentally conscious and slightly overweight Jonah. Minor characters include five-year-old George (Jonah’s son) and geeky classmate Horace Zimmerman, who bring balance to Sarah’s self-centered feelings of betrayal by both parents. Despite the short, unadorned, flat writing style, Rupp manages to develop her themes and character with enough emotional integrity to underscore the overall message that personal attitude can ultimately control the way we accept inevitable change in our lives. A quick read in the over-used diary-style middle-grade fiction with expanded potential for a series or even family discussion. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3220-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

A NOVEL IN CARTOONS

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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