MY TEETH

From a toothless tot in South Africa to a tooth-brushing child in Ireland, bright, baby-pleasing photographs of children and their teeth fill this multicultural parade of faces. Readers are prompted to count up from no teeth to ten in mouths mostly—but not exclusively—smiling. Oddly, with the exception of Turkey, Asian babies are not represented at all, though there are some South American children and two from New Zealand. The generally small size of the babies’ teeth makes the counting more a thematic rack to hang the pictures on than a truly functional conceptual exercise, but given the appeal of other babies’ faces to the readership, it’s hard to imagine this one going far wrong. (6-12 mos.)

Pub Date: May 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58246-212-7

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

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Not your typical kid-with-cancer book.

WINK

A rare form of cancer takes its toll in this novel based on the author’s experience.

Seventh grader Ross Maloy wants nothing more than to be an average middle schooler, hanging out with his best friends, Abby and Isaac, avoiding the school bully, and crushing on the popular girl. There’s just one thing keeping Ross from being completely ordinary: the rare form of eye cancer that’s reduced him to the kid with cancer at school. Ross’ eye is closed in a permanent wink, and he constantly wears a cowboy hat to protect his eyes. The doctors are hopeful that Ross will be cancer free after treatment, but his vision will be impaired, and the treatments cause him to lose his hair and require the application of a particularly goopy ointment. This isn’t a cancer book built upon a foundation of prayer, hope, and life lessons. The driving force here is Ross’ justifiable anger. Ross is angry at the anonymous kids making hurtful memes about him and at Isaac for abandoning him when he needs a friend most. Ross funnels his feelings into learning how to play guitar, hoping to make a splash at the school’s talent show. The author balances this anger element well against the typical middle-grade tropes. Misunderstood bully? Check. Well-meaning parents? Check. While some of these elements will feel familiar, the novel’s emotional climax remains effectively earned. Characters are paper-white in Harrell’s accompanying cartoons.

Not your typical kid-with-cancer book. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1514-9

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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THE GRADUATION OF JAKE MOON

Jake Moon’s grandfather Skelly used to be the emotional fixer in Jake’s household, the one who soothed his hurts and helped him through hard times. But when Jake is in third grade, Skelly begins forgetting things and by the time Jake is ready to graduate from eighth grade Skelly’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where he is barely aware of his surroundings. Jake learns from Skelly’s doctor that Alzheimer’s disease has three stages, “each . . . worse than the one before it,” which Jake thinks of as “(1) sad, (2) sadder, and (3) the saddest thing you’ve ever seen.” The book chronicles not only Skelly’s deterioration, but also the effect it has on Jake and his relationships with other family members and friends. As Skelly’s condition worsens, their roles reverse and Jake finds himself caring for the man who once cared for him. That, coupled with the fact that his grandfather has become a tremendous embarrassment—at a sleepover, Skelly shows up in Jake’s room without any pants or underpants, for example—causes Jake to disengage from friends and extracurricular activities. Park’s convincing first-person narration rings true, and she is particularly adept at rendering Jake’s complex emotional journey, which encompasses love, confusion, sadness, anger, embarrassment, shame, and finally acceptance. The book has some funny moments, but it’s one of Park’s darker, more poignant creations; readers expecting a Skinnybones–type laugh-a-thon will be sadly disappointed. Nonetheless, Park has produced a perceptive book that should prove useful to children who must navigate similar waters. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83912-X

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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