A problematic lead character could leave this book struggling to find a mainstream audience.

10 REASONS NOT TO FALL IN LOVE

In Gand’s debut novel, originally posted on Wattpad, two teenagers spar their way toward romance.

Elizabeth Blackburn is the new girl in school. Her goals are simple: be the top student at ritzy Star Lake High and fend off the attention of gorgeous, arrogant Vincent Richardson. Vincent has it all: He excels “in art, music, sports, and academics”; he’s also good-looking, wealthy and popular, and used to getting everything he wants. Elizabeth, whom he persists in calling “Liz” no matter how many times she tells him not to, throws him for a loop. Soon, she has passed him in every subject and stubbornly refuses to give him the time of day. And when she lets her hair down, she’s the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. He’s undeterred by rejection, and when she gives him a list of 10 reasons she won’t fall in love with him, he’s determined to eliminate them one by one, whether she wants him to or not. Romance starting as rivalry is a familiar premise but one that still resonates—the denizens of Wattpad rated the story highly—and Gand’s setup, giving Vincent 10 obstacles to methodically wipe out, has promise. Her prose is straightforward and readable, but Gand sometimes takes the bickering too far. Vincent’s persistence often crosses the line, forcing Elizabeth to physically fight him: “Elizabeth tried to push him away, but Vincent used his weight to keep her down.” Coupled with his violent tendencies (he gets in multiple fistfights over the course of the book, occasionally attacking other boys who dare to look at Liz), Vincent’s behavior comes off as rather predatory instead of romantic.

A problematic lead character could leave this book struggling to find a mainstream audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692223604

Page Count: 312

Publisher: WGPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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