CLARENCE COCHRAN, A HUMAN BOY

Clever reimaginings of classics generally rely on awareness of the originals for at least part of their appeal (and most of their humor). That would seem to spell trouble for this reversal of The Metamorphosis. Still, even kids unfamiliar with Kafka’s work are likely to enjoy this tale of a young cockroach whose inexplicable transformation into a tiny human boy enables him to save his family from a dreadful death at the hands of an exterminator. Loizeaux paints an entertaining picture of the slovenly Gilmartin family and the bounty that their kitchen provides to the local cockroach community—until the unthinkable happens, and the family catches sight of them. How Clarence copes with his change, the suspicious distaste of his former friends and the threat that faces them all will capture kids’ interest. Clarence’s ultimate victory, gained by writing a heartfelt plea to Mrs. Gilmartin, isn’t entirely convincing, but readers will be pleased at his success. Wilsdorf’s black-and-white drawings amplify the humor of the text while highlighting specific action and amusing details. (Fantasy. 9-12)

None None

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-374-31323-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Newbery Honor Book

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

Entrancing and uplifting.

STAY

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more