A cautionary tale the whole family will find amusing and enlightening

READ REVIEW

JACK STRONG TAKES A STAND

Jack Strong is an ordinary kid with an extraordinary schedule who finally chooses to become a couch potato to make his point.

Cello, soccer, tennis, EMT training, Chinese: Jack’s parents, especially his dad, expect him to be a well-rounded person when it becomes time to apply for college, and to this end, they are filling his days with an overload of extracurricular activities. But what Jack really wants is more time on his couch, where he can spend some quality time daydreaming. One afternoon, Jack can’t take it anymore and goes on strike; he refuses to get off the couch until his parents agree to let him quit the activities he doesn’t like to do. Publicity and hilarity ensue, which Jack finds a nice change, but soon he realizes there are greater things worth standing up for, like the very family he’s angry at. Greenwald, author of the Charlie Joe Jackson series, writes with a relaxed tone that young readers will identify with, and he touches on subjects that kids and parents alike will find relevant, capturing the conundrum of overscheduling with poignancy and humor. While a few plot points are a little far-fetched, overall the book offers a winning combination of ethics and slapstick. Drawings by Mendes are simple but effective. 

A cautionary tale the whole family will find amusing and enlightening . (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-836-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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