8 PLUS 1

Fans of Cormier's gripping, dimensional thrillers will be disappointed with this collection of nine tepidly sentimental stories. Most are about father-child or father-teenager relationships. Most deal more-or-less with a poor French Canadian boy in late 1930s New England, or his middle-class adult self in the late '60s and early '70s, or his teenage children in the same period. (More-or-less because the same names and backgrounds recur, but not consistently. For example, Ellen is the contemporary wife in most, but her husband, the main character, is sometimes Jerry [as was the French Canadian boy], sometimes not.) In one story the son, Mike, visits his grandmother in a nursing home. Because of his mustache (controversial at home) she mistakes him for her husband, also Mike, and thus reveals to the young Mike an old marital misunderstanding. In another story a divorced father fails his little girl by not accompanying her on a scarey amusement park fide. In others, the father's sympathy with a son's jilted girlfriend and a daughter's abandoned boyfriend is mixed with his own regrets of time passing. Cormier prefaces each story with an account of how it came about—in almost every case, from an incident in his own life. But, alas, the stories don't distill and amplify the material. In the case of the amusement park ride, the real experience seems more subtle and affecting than the story that was made of it.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1980

ISBN: 0440208386

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1980

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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