KAT'S SURRENDER

A novel that skillfully pits a teenager against nearly insurmountable sorrows following the death of her mother. Kat, 13, whose mother died of cancer, has withdrawn from the world. As she tries to ignore her old friends, she makes a new one in the General, an elderly man who feeds pigeons and lives in a fantasy. Kat finds she can’t avoid her old friends entirely; she still sees her best friend, Maggie, who believes that a next-door neighbor, Mrs. Twitchell, is a malevolent witch, a notion Kat accepts. Calamity strikes again when Maggie is injured in a hit-and-run accident; the General is the guilty driver. Kat loses her only remaining friend, Paul, when she tries to defend the General. Only a strict teacher, Sister Mildred, offers any sympathy, but it’s not until Kat falls off a ledge and into Mrs. Twitchell’s apartment does she learn that everyone has some tragedy, and that life can be good when it is faced with courage. Golding displays solid knowledge of adolescent girls, and her story has enough excitement and mystery to interest many of them. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56397-755-9

Page Count: 179

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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CLICKETY CLACK

A train load of wild and wacky animals gets so noisy that the engineer has to shout to get them to quiet down. The little black train picks up yaks, acrobats, a troupe of ducks, and stomping elephants as passengers. But when two mice that are in to fireworks climb aboard, the engineer threatens to stop the whole train. “ ‘Keep it down!’ yells Driver Zach. ‘You’re giving me a headache attack!’ “ Everyone quickly hushes up, and soon, “the only sound you hear, in fact,/is the sound of the wheels on the railroad track. Clickety clack, clickety clack.” The words bounce along to the rhythm of a train on its way, and the swell of the sound effects makes this a joy to read aloud. Spengler’s robust illustrations capture an antic cast of passengers, conveying the action as much through composition as color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87946-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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HOW MANY CANDLES?

PLB 0-688-16259-2 Time is relative, as Griffith’s pleasingly droll story makes clear, especially when a cat, a dog, a turtle, and a couple gnats get together to compare longevity. The dog, Alex, has made a cake for his friend, Robbie, a boy turning ten who never appears in these pages. A cat notes that Robbie’s years equal about 70 of hers, while a turtle figures that the same number equals about 8 of his years, because he can live to be 100. Two gnats buzz in to check on the doings, and they can’t even begin to comprehend the very notion of ten years—“ ‘Well, they’re gnats,’ said the cat. ‘Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat.’ “ As Alex tries to determine how many candles are needed for each new configuration, the cat sniffs the cake: “This seems to be made of dog biscuits,” and the higher mathematics are put on the back burner while some sheer tomfoolery comes to the fore. This is a delightful exploration of dry humor and number-juggling, accompanied by some elegantly funny artwork. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16258-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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