BRO

Nine-year-old Tugwell Dockery doesn’t speak. People think it’s because of the horrible train crash that killed his parents, but no, something he witnessed years ago made him mute. His older brother, Broda Joe Dockery, knows Tug is smart and knows he’ll talk again someday, but Bro is in prison for another year, though plotting an escape. Told from several rapidly shifting, third-person points of view, the story races along. A corrupt prison warden, a prison break, a swamp full of deadly gators and snakes, and mysterious terrors in Tug’s memory give the story a larger-than-life feel. The opening chapter is a model of sharp descriptive writing, and a later birthing scene is reminiscent of a famous episode in A Day No Pigs Would Die. Allusions to prison violence and a graphic scene out of Tug’s memory make this a work for an older audience. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-052974-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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HOMELESS BIRD

1893

Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028454-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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