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CASSIDY'S GUIDE TO EVERYDAY ETIQUETTE (AND OBFUSCATION)

This intermittently funny book offers likable characters, but it lacks Stauffacher’s customary expert touch.

To her horror, an 11-year-old tomboy prankster is forced to take an etiquette class and learn the rules of polite society.

Girls who want to be “something wacko” like “a princess or a movie star” might find the rules of etiquette useful, but Cassidy, Stauffacher’s irrepressible, obnoxious, but still strongly sympathetic heroine, has a more original goal: she longs to be a hobo. And she’s not even the most eccentric character in Stauffacher’s quirky new comedy with a message. Cassidy’s 15-year-old sister, Magda, is fascinated with decomposition—a great present for her would be a dead rodent—and Cassidy’s best friend, Jack, wants to be a stuntman. Although Stauffacher keeps the tone light and humorous in this first-person novel, personal growth is still undeniably painful. In particular, Cassidy, on the cusp of adolescence, has to deal with how the changes in her and Jack’s bodies affect their feelings and behavior. Sadly, after the players and their conflicts are laid out, the book seems to get stuck; the etiquette lessons are not as interminable as they feel to Cassidy, but they don’t have much momentum either. When it comes, the happy ending, though welcome, is a tad hard to buy psychologically.

This intermittently funny book offers likable characters, but it lacks Stauffacher’s customary expert touch. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-375-83097-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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THE ONE AND ONLY RUBY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 3

Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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