SECRETS OF THE SHOPPING MALL

On an impulse, unhappy loner Teresa rescues brainy Barnie from a mean gang in their inner city junior high school—and the two flee to a suburban jungle that proves just as dangerous. Finding themselves at a shopping mall when their bus fare runs out, the two seem fairly successful hiding out in a large department store—Teresa is happy just to have a companion—but then they are hauled up before a night court of slick, well-regimented teenage runaways (the leaders are named Barbie and Ken) who also live in the store and surface after hours, and who don't take kindly to invasion of their turf. Soon they are invaded, though, by the Mouth Breathers, a grubbier gang of suburban greasers who rule the parking lot. There's a stemware-smashing middle-of-the-night battle; city-smart Teresa gets rid of the Mouth Breathers; and before long she has outsmarted the Ken-and-Barbie set as well, winning the store for herself and Barnie and getting a ground-floor start on a merchandising career. One problem with this broad, ham-handed satire is that Peck has no sharp sight on his targets: a mall with Gucci labels and a K mart is hard to place; an outmoded junior miss department buyer promoting the Dale Evans western look is too far out even to be a credible figure of fun; and Peck's stereotyped, commodity-oriented runaways are more recognizable as prevailing clichés than as the plastic people he intends to mock. Worse, Teresa and Barnie have no personalities either and their thoughts and conversations no vitality.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0440402700

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1979

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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