Memorable for its cast, if not its patchy plot, this tale revolves around a teenager regaining his balance, both figuratively and literally, after losing most of his upper-class family. But as the title indicates, it’s really more about the lives and characters of the elderly relatives who take him in. A plane crash has left Tate Stonemason without parents, grandparents, or siblings, and with a shattered leg that has brought an end to his dreams of playing professional baseball. Only his great grandfather Abbott and Abbott’s adopted daughter, Vidalia, herself over 70, remain to care for him. They do that, in part, by sharing baseball memories: Abbott, of attending Ty Cobb’s funeral; Vidalia, of “Ethiopia’s Clowns,” African-American barnstormers who raised her for ten years during the Depression era after she was left as a baby on the team bus. Peck (Cowboy Ghost, 1999, etc.) stitches together a set of connected but separate tales. They include an airport worker’s act of negligence that causes the crash; the Clowns’ experiences in towns both hostile and welcoming; the adoption of young Vidalia into the Stonemason family despite the color of her skin; and finally, Vidalia’s death, and the keeping of certain promises made to her by Tate and Abbott. The Stonemasons’ oddly stilted way of speaking with each other—“ ‘Mr. Tate believes that there’s only darksome, but all he has to do is wait patient for a dawn. No storm endures forever. There always comes a sunup. Perhaps not the perfect day, but nevertheless a spanking-fresh one.’ ”—has the effect of bringing out how strong, close, and loving they are, and though the worst of Tate’s dark night passes between chapters, his healing brings the story to a strong close. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-028867-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Revisiting characters from The Cook’s Family (1998), Yep again explores personal and cultural conflicts arising between the generations in a Chinese-American family. Suddenly saddled with caring for four younger siblings after a wealthy businessman hires her widowed mother as a governess—or amah—for his daughter, Stephanie, Amy Chin is forced to miss several ballet rehearsals for Cinderella, to listen to glowing accounts of Stephanie’s sophistication, and to accept expensive clothing and other gifts from her. While gaining new insight into how Cinderella’s stepsisters must have felt, Amy’s understandable resentment is compounded by the news that Stephanie will be moving in while her father is away on a trip. Yep builds that feeling to fever pitch, then dispels it by casting Stephanie as a lonely child hurt by one parent’s death and the other’s neglect; becoming friends, Stephanie and Amy clear the air and mend some fences with their well-meaning parents in a climactic face-off. The characters, most of them familiar from previous appearances, are distinct if not particularly complex, the San Francisco setting is vividly drawn, and the issues are laid out in plain terms and tidily resolved. It’s formulaic, but not entirely superficial. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23040-8

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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McLaren (Inside the Walls of Troy, 1996, etc.) writes of a girl’s wish to understand her new surroundings, and to be understood by those who love her. When Kate’s father decides to move back to his homeland to work as a lawyer for Hawaiian sovereignty, Kate is devastated at the thought of leaving their comfortable home and affluent lifestyle (not to mention a beloved pet) behind. From the first she hates Oahu and the seedy little apartment the family moves into. Worse, Kate enters school and discovers what it is to be part of a despised minority; she is half Hawaiian, but her fair looks brand her as haole, looked on with contempt at best. Even in her family she experiences rejection; her Hawaiian relatives more or less ignore Kate when they’re not fighting with her father over the means they should use to gain their freedom from the US government. Kate’s past training in ballet comes to her rescue when she learns the hula, the historic interpretive dance that is a major part of Hawaiian culture. To her surprise, her relatives realize that she is not just learning to dance beautifully but is coming to respect their traditions and way of life. It’s a fine story, made even more interesting through its the unflinching look at a place most mainlanders think of as a tropical paradise. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-82393-2

Page Count: 143

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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