Fans of ballet will be disappointed by the lack of detail, and fans of magic will be as disappointed by the smoothness of...

READ REVIEW

NUTCRACKED

There’s magic onstage and off in this production of The Nutcracker.

Unfortunately, there’s little call for applause. Georgie, a blonde white girl, wins the coveted role of Clara, the girl who helps defeat the Mouse King and travels to the Kingdom of Sweets with the Nutcracker prince. The magic begins when Georgie holds the antique Nutcracker doll used as a prop in her hands. He has been under a spell for 200 years, and this is the final time he can call for help before he is imprisoned forever. Georgie is determined to do what she can. As she says: “I believe in magic.” Rehearsals follow with visits to the Nutcracker’s mysterious otherworld, easily entered and easily left. A new friend, Noah, who’s black and who is not in the ballet, helps her and is able to travel in and out of the magic as readily. Georgie juggles concern for her sick grandfather, a busy rehearsal schedule, and a messy friendship with a former BFF who has not been cast. She also uncovers a connection between the E.T.A. Hoffmann classic tale, her teacher, and the Nutcracker doll. It’s a holiday package all conveniently tied together, with too little delving into its elements to satisfy.

Fans of ballet will be disappointed by the lack of detail, and fans of magic will be as disappointed by the smoothness of the spells. (Magical realism. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55668-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.

FISH IN A TREE

Hunt draws a portrait of dyslexia and getting along.

Ally Nickerson, who’s passed through seven schools in seven years, maintains a Sketchbook of Impossible Things. A snowman in a furnace factory is more plausible than imagining herself doing something right—like reading. She doesn't know why, but letters dance and give her headaches. Her acting out to disguise her difficulty causes headaches for her teachers, who, oddly, never consider dyslexia, even though each notices signs like inconsistent spellings of the same word. Ally's confusion is poignant when misunderstandings like an unintentional sympathy card for a pregnant teacher make her good intentions backfire, and readers will sympathize as she copes with the class "mean girls." When a creative new teacher, Mr. Daniels, steps in, the plot turns more uplifting but also metaphor-heavy; a coin with a valuable flaw, cupcakes with hidden letters, mystery boxes and references to the Island of Misfit Toys somewhat belabor the messages that things aren't always what they seem and everyone is smart in their own ways. Despite emphasis on "thinking outside the box," characters are occasionally stereotypical—a snob, a brainiac, an unorthodox teacher—but Ally's new friendships are satisfying, as are the recognition of her dyslexia and her renewed determination to read.

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16259-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more