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

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 stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

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BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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