SECOND FIDDLE

OR HOW TO TELL A BLACKBIRD FROM A SAUSAGE

Irish narrator Mags has moved to a new town after her father’s death. Talented Gillian, who practices violin in the woods Mags explores, can’t seem to find her own dad. An aspiring writer at age 11, Mags ostensibly crafts this dual-voiced novel, giving herself the longer, cleverer bits. Mags hatches a plan to find Gillian’s recalcitrant father and tap him for the money Gillian needs to audition at a renowned London music school. Parkinson portrays a fresh, feisty heroine in Mags, whose “Project Manhunt”—far more intriguing to her than Gillian—is an unconscious stab at reconciling her father’s death. There are poignant, funny passages as Mags, her mother, grandfather and even Mum’s new friend, Don, approach that reconciliation. Gillian and her family, eccentric and disconnected, contrast thinly and sadly with Mags’s own. The dénouement—wherein Mags tracks Gillian’s dad to his apartment in the next town—doesn’t quite equal the setup, a fact that can’t be pinned on the budding fictive author. An often-touching exploration of the variant ties between friends, and in families. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-59643-122-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE BAD BEGINNING

The Baudelaire children—Violet, 14, Klaus, 12, and baby Sunny—are exceedingly ill-fated; Snicket extracts both humor and horror from their situation, as he gleefully puts them through one terrible ordeal after another. After receiving the news that their parents died in a fire, the three hapless orphans are delivered into the care of Count Olaf, who “is either a third cousin four times removed, or a fourth cousin three times removed.” The villainous Count Olaf is morally depraved and generally mean, and only takes in the downtrodden yet valiant children so that he can figure out a way to separate them from their considerable inheritance. The youngsters are able to escape his clutches at the end, but since this is the first installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, there will be more ghastly doings. Written with old-fashioned flair, this fast-paced book is not for the squeamish: the Baudelaire children are truly sympathetic characters who encounter a multitude of distressing situations. Those who enjoy a little poison in their porridge will find it wicked good fun. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-440766-7

Page Count: 162

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more