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THE LANGUAGE OF SEABIRDS

A wonderful, tender story about changing relationships.

Jeremy and Evan, 12-year-old boys, find each other during a summer vacation in a tourist town in Oregon.

Irish American Jeremy is gearing up to come out to his parents, but he just can’t do it. With his parents separating, he now has to spend two weeks in a rental house with his dad while his mom moves out. His dad was always the easygoing parent, but he suddenly has picky new rules and a short temper and is drinking more than usual. Luckily Jeremy finds an escape in his new friendship with Evan, a beautiful boy cued as White who runs on the beach. Together they explore the beach and make up their own secret code using the names of seabirds as they develop feelings for each other. Taylor beautifully evokes the strange, liminal feelings of an early summer vacation that lasts forever and is over too quickly, parents in the process of going from marriage to divorce, and the confusing time between childhood and adolescence, when boys might want to play with toy dinosaurs one moment and hold hands the next. Jeremy and Evan’s developing relationship is heartwarming and innocently romantic. The author also captures the difficulty and fear of dealing with a parent whose high-functioning alcoholism is deteriorating. Jeremy’s entry into adolescence is warm and triumphant without offering pat solutions or platitudes.

A wonderful, tender story about changing relationships. (glossary, note about birds, author's note) (Fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75373-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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