IT AIN'T ALL FOR NOTHIN'

As both Branscum and Rabe come out with grit-and-hardship dramas of 1930s orphans, Myers gives us a contemporary Harlem kid whose problems seem more real and more serious even though he has a father and, thanks to welfare, knows he will eat. When motherless Tippy's grandmother ends up in the hospital, Tippy, twelve, is sent on to Lonny, who happens to be his father but is neither inclined toward nor equipped for the role. Lonny hangs around with his buddies, drinks, smokes weed, and alternately beats on Tippy, tries ineptly to be companionable, or presses money on him. Worse, Lonny and his friends engage in robberies and force Tippy to participate. Torn and miserable about going along with them, Tippy too starts to drink. How can he break away when he has nowhere to go? (Though this isn't a humorous story like Myers' Fast Sam, Cool Clyde and Stuff and Mojo and the Russians, there's a funny scene in the bus station where "a white guy in a yellow robe" and a black guy in a white robe get to pounding on each other over whether Tippy needs Krishna or Allah.) But at last, with one of the gang critically shot and untended after their big stick-up, Tippy does go to a sympathetic neighbor who notifies the police and later takes him in. Kindly Mr. Roland's convenient presence in the wings constitutes perhaps an easy out for Tippy and for Myers, but it doesn't undermine Myers' demonstration that however the cards are stacked, the choice is there to be made. And instead of the broad-stroke characterization of the orphan books, Myers gives us people—you'll even come to feel for the hopelessly no-good Lonny before he ends up in jail. Sound base, authentic surface—like Tippy, a winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 1978

ISBN: 0064473112

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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