STRING MUSIC

So who wouldn’t want to hang out with Michael Jordan? That’s how Telander’s protagonist, 11-year-old Robbie Denwood, feels about Jasper Jasmine, the Jordanesque phenom of Robbie’s favorite basketball team, the fictional Thunder. Robbie yearns to be a winner like Jasper—on his school’s basketball team and in life. He’s always picked last to play on the team; his dad walked away from his family; and his mom and teen sister are constantly at odds. Whenever Robbie’s tired of being a loser, which is most of the time, he retreats from his misery to a secret fort he’s built in the woods behind his home. Here he keeps special treasures, like toy soldiers who obey his every command, a salamander, a spider, and numerous photos of Jasper Jasmine. Then, one particularly depressing day, Robbie runs away into Chicago and sneaks into a Thunder game, where he manages to meet and briefly speak to his idol. Something about the boy touches the star’s heart and he invites Robbie to become the team’s ball boy for a few weeks, much to his family’s and friends’ amazement and envy. Even better is the close bond that develops between hero and worshipful fan. Jasper becomes the only person Robbie has ever invited to the secret refuge. There, Jasper confesses that he, too, harbors personal heartaches. By novel’s end, Jasper Jasmine has taught Robbie a few life lessons and has learned some himself. Robbie develops in self-confidence and self-acceptance. Sure, this is all fantasy, but who would begrudge anyone the right to dream? Telander, lead sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, has penned an enjoyable, very readable story that boys especially will appreciate and relate to. Robbie’s a nice kid, and Jasper’s a really nice guy. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8126-2657-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Cricket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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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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  • Newbery Honor Book

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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