Share with kids before and after camp—newbies will be astonished at how typical Michael's experience is; seasoned campers...

READ REVIEW

POSTCARDS FROM CAMP

A POSTAL STORY

A reluctant camper gradually adjusts over the course of the summer, which is communicated entirely in postcards and letters between him and his father.

After a brief prelude, the book begins with Michael's first postcard home, sent, apparently, as soon as he gets there. "Dear Dad, I HATE camp! Come get me! P-L-E-A-S-E. My counselor is an alien and a vegetarian." His father cheerfully responds to each plea with propaganda: New York City is in the throes of a heat wave; a hand-drawn postcard indicates that "97.3% of all children love camp." Postcard by postcard, though, Michael's attitude changes. He is certified as a "shark" in swim class; he goes on an awesome canoe trip; the Color War "was such fun.… Camp isn't that bad." There's one piece of correspondence per page turn, allowing readers to see both fronts and backs of postcards and letters. In the case of the letters, readers can "open" the envelopes cunningly glued to the pages and pull out the enclosed letters. Taback's signature illustrative style is perfect for this brief tale. Michael's scrawl and his father's cursive share space with collaged stamps and photographs as well as illustrations that suit the correspondents’ ages.

Share with kids before and after camp—newbies will be astonished at how typical Michael's experience is; seasoned campers (and their parents) will laugh all the way through. (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-23973-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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A satisfying, winning read.

Our Verdict

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BOOKED

Nick Hall is a bright eighth-grader who would rather do anything other than pay attention in class.

Instead he daydreams about soccer, a girl he likes, and an upcoming soccer tournament. His linguistics-professor father carefully watches his educational progress, requiring extra reading and word study, much to Nick’s chagrin and protest. Fortunately, his best friend, Coby, shares his passion for soccer—and, sadly, the unwanted attention of twin bullies in their school. Nick senses something is going on with his parents, but their announcement that they are separating is an unexpected blow: “it’s like a bombshell / drops / right in the center / of your heart / and it splatters / all across your life.” The stress leads to counseling, and his life is further complicated by injury and emergency surgery. His soccer dream derailed, Nick turns to the books he has avoided and finds more than he expected. Alexander’s highly anticipated follow-up to Newbery-winning The Crossover is a reflective narrative, with little of the first book’s explosive energy. What the mostly free-verse novel does have is a likable protagonist, great wordplay, solid teen and adult secondary characters, and a clear picture of the challenges young people face when self-identity clashes with parental expectations. The soccer scenes are vivid and will make readers wish for more, but the depiction of Nick as he unlocks his inner reader is smooth and believable.

A satisfying, winning read. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-57098-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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