ONE APRIL VACATION by Ruth Wallace-Brodeur


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While last year's The Kenton Year chronicles a child's recovery from her father's death, this is based on a sort of ludicrous parallel: picking her nose on the first Sunday of spring vacation, nine-year-old Kate ""just happened to notice a tiny hair sticking out of the piece on the end of her finger."" As smart, older Harlan Atwater has told her that losing a nose hair means certain death within a week, Kate experiences an uneasy vacation. But most of the episodes related here are mere distractions, scarcely colored by the impending tragedy: Kate and her friends spook themselves playing in the attic; Kate and spry Aunt Melindy, 82, have one of those companionable youth-age outings so familiar in juvenile fiction; Kate and her sister Alison have their differences and make up. True, when Kate acquires a stray cat early in the week, she's mostly worried about her family keeping it after she's gone; and when, by Saturday, she breaks her arm jumping off a roof in emulation of the school's much-admired daredevil, it's mostly because, considering everything, ""the time seemed right."" But terror doesn't seize Kate till Sunday, when she's riveted to the clock until it passes zero hour, then gloriously relieved. Wallace-Brodeur handles this scene with easy empathy and a touch of humor, and almost all the episodes feel authentic (Aunt Melindy may be too made-up). But they're almost too low-keyed and everyday to matter; they're surely too slight to carry the last-page outcome (Kate now knows how to face death, and fears it less); and they might be too delicate for that indelicate starting point.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum