Readers fond of lightweight mysteries solved by spunky heroines will take to this fiction debut, though a heavy ballast of tragedy and near-tragedy keeps it low to the ground. Having used the discovery of an empty hunting cabin as an excuse to form a secret club, Iris and four friends spin news reports of missing carnival receipts and the (supposedly) accidental death of the cabin’s owner, Ol’ Man Hazard, into an exciting scenario involving hidden loot and murder. Then they find a cryptic rhymed clue that mentions treasure, which they take as a broad hint that they’re on the right track. The story is carried along on sad undercurrents: Iris, called “illegitimate” by another girl in the opening pages, learns that her parents weren’t married when her father was killed in the Korean War; her tough grandmother is rushed to the hospital with severe pneumonia; Iris sets fire to the cabin and nearly suffocates inside; and the reclusive Ol’ Lady Hazard, thought to be a witch and chief suspect in her husband’s death, turns out to be the sickly, abused widow of a cruel alcoholic. While the plot never develops a compelling pace, and the story’s lessons are laid out in a concluding book report on Silas Marner, some of the dialogue and set pieces show a promising authorial gift for comedy. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1467-1

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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A girl and her sister start off rather glumly in the back seat of the car, leaving all their friends behind, because they are off to a family party. When they arrive, they are kissed by Aunt Joan—the worst—and then there is more kissing and a bunch of cousins just hanging around. But the kids start sharing war stories (hair cuts, lost teeth, split lips) and playing shark on the lawn; there are hideouts under Uncle John’s chair and potato-chip thievery; and then there is all that food beloved of family gatherings, for it is Gran’s birthday. At the end, of course, no one wants to go home. In sprightly rhyme, Reid captures the range of experience, from initial wariness to high hilarity, present at parties full of relatives. Her illustrations, done in painted Plasticine on board, have a wonderful texture, making a Hawaiian shirt, three-bean salad, and Mary Jane shoes pop out of the page. A treat. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-97801-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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