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Krensky’s appealing primary-grader (Lionel in the Summer, 1998, etc.) takes on school challenges sure to interest beginning readers, and once again Natti’s cheerful, two-to-a-spread, pencil, colored-pencil, and watercolor wash illustrations accompany them. In “Keeping Secrets,” Lionel fears losing his privacy at Back-to-School night after his sister, Louise, tells him that parents and teachers trade secrets and end up knowing “everything about you.” How to avoid this dire fate? Lionel decides to keep the adults busily separate, and his plan works without any loss of likability. “Moving” gives Lionel insight into the unsettling nature of change; even a move across town can make it hard for a new kid like Ben to feel at home. Lionel remembers his mother saying that the newcomer will probably like new friends and offers to be Ben’s “trusty guide,” which includes knowing what to steer away from at lunchtime. “The Stranger” centers on the peculiar behavior of sisters who ignore you in public, as well as an imaginative—and gently punitive—means of dealing with the aliens who must have taken over Louise’s brain. The final story, “Passing the Time,” leaves Lionel thinking that maybe “time knew what it was doing” when he attempts to manipulate it. Readers will recognize themselves and their friends in these authentically childlike characters and episodes; better yet, they'll enjoy them. (Fiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8037-2457-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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A London-based photographer offers images of traditional life and culture in her Nigerian homeland. Sharp, sun-drenched photos filled with smiles and bright colors create an idealized impression of village life, with little evidence of poverty and only occasional, inadvertent, signs of modern influences—a child wearing a T-shirt, or oil lamps made from recycled milk tins. In an introduction and many of the brief captions, the author suggests that the drums, beads, mud huts, family structures, and other details she captures on film represent Africa in microcosm, a risky sort of reductionism. The diversity—and unities—of African culture are evoked more effectively for younger readers by Musgrove's Ashanti to Zulu (1976); the photos in Chiasson's African Journey (1987) provide a more multifaceted view of village life. Visually appealing, but simplistic. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-65147-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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Longwinded though affecting tribute to resilience and solidarity.

Even a Category 5 hurricane can’t stop a revered coach and his championship high-school football team.

Popular historian Thompson (Driving with the Devil, 2006, etc.) begins in the locker room of New Orleans’ John Curtis Christian School on August 26, 2005. It was the night of the “jamboree” scrimmage that opened the season, and members of the Patriots were hoping to win another state championship for their school. Nationally recognized coach J.T. Curtis, also the school’s headmaster and son of its founder, knew that his hardworking, enthusiastic squad couldn’t compare to last year’s lineup. Many key players had graduated to college ball, and he needed to mentally and physically condition a young, unproven team with efficient, college-level practices consisting of “equal parts Broadway musical and football drills.” The 2005-6 Patriots included an anxious new starting quarterback, a Harvard hopeful, a spiritual heavyweight and a star linebacker whose religion forbade him to play on Friday nights. John Curtis School favored community building and happiness over flashy exteriors, and Coach Curtis reflected those values in his broadminded teaching style and paternal approach to his players’ personal lives. Hurricane Katrina confronted him and his team with the ultimate challenge. Returning to the drowned city, J.T. found the school in miraculously good shape and set out to reunite his squad and get them on the field again. Some players were tempted to join teams in other school districts, and Hurricane Rita tested them once again, but the devoted coach kept on plugging. Thompson deftly profiles a generous selection of players and families torn apart by the disaster and considers the contagious obsession for football shared by participants and fans alike. In a somewhat meandering fashion, he delivers a fully realized interpretative portrait of a coach and a sports organization willing to sacrifice all in the name of football.

Longwinded though affecting tribute to resilience and solidarity.

Pub Date: July 31, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4070-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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