KNITWITS

Taylor's comedies Agnes the Sheep (1991) and this latest have in common not only references to wool culture, but a zany point-of- view and some fairly unravelled scenes of domestic life in New Zealand. Charles is alarmed by the news of his mother's pregnancy, but makes a bet with precocious next-door neighbor Alice Pepper that he will knit a sweater for the little nipper by the time it is born. At stake: either he will pay her five dollars a week for the rest of her life, or she will bequeath to him all her notorious collections, including her assembly of skulls. Charles takes knitting lessons from a curmugeonly teacher, the very one to have unjustly suspended him from the hockey team for using bad language (Alice is the guilty party). He is able to keep his project a secret from nearly everyone; his two best chums ``catch'' him at it and sit down to revel in their own feats of knitting prowess. This is but one of many unexpected twists that will needle the funny bones of most middle graders; regular references to Charles's mother's expanding ``boobs'' will nail down the peculiar interests of the rest. With unpredictably comical depictions that never lapse into caricature, and descriptions of the sweater's progress that are a study in gleeful boyish pride, this blithe look at an expectant family has no dropped stitches. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-590-45778-0

Page Count: 101

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.).

POPPY

From the Poppy series , Vol. 3

An adolescent mouse named Poppy is off on a romantic tryst with her rebel boyfriend when they are attacked by Mr. Ocax, the owl who rules over the area.

He kills the boyfriend, but Poppy escapes and Mr. Ocax vows to catch her. Mr. Ocax has convinced all the mice that he is their protector when, in fact, he preys on them mercilessly. When the mice ask his permission to move to a new house, he refuses, blaming Poppy for his decision. Poppy suspects that there is another reason Mr. Ocax doesn't want them to move and investigates to clear her name. With the help of a prickly old porcupine and her quick wits, Poppy defeats her nemesis and her own fears, saving her family in the bargain. 

The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.). (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09483-9

Page Count: 147

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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