An admirable foray into novel-writing by a young writer.

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Perky Girl: The Amazing Life of Bienna Molo

A children’s novel by a 9-year-old author that follows the life an exceptionally perky girl who experiences mostly good things in life.

The book opens on a very young Bienna Molo when she’s just about to start preschool. She’s nervous about attending class and afraid that the other kids will make fun of her because she wears glasses. However, when she finally does reveal her eyewear, the class accepts her and is proud of her courage. This pattern continues throughout the book as readers follow Bienna through school, her career, and ultimately to her death at the age of 95. Although she encounters challenges—her older sister ran away when Bienna was 2, and at another point, a girl is mean to Bienna—these problems are generally solved very easily, often within the span of a page. The speed of these resolutions often makes the book read like a set of small, separate anecdotes without much continuity. For example, one day, Bienna has a birthday party, and the next chapter, out of the blue, her parents have a new baby, and both events are treated with the same significance. Bienna’s various experiences don’t seem to leave her in any way altered, and her voice doesn’t really change as she ages. This is understandable in a book written by a 9-year-old author, however, as it’s very unlikely that someone so young would be able to imbue a story of such scope with maturity and reflection. As it is, the book is a very impressive set of vignettes, considering its provenance.

An admirable foray into novel-writing by a young writer.

Pub Date: March 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-2556-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2015

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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