THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY...

HOW I VISITED YELLOWSTONE PARK WITH THE TERRIBLE RUPES

Lewis Dodge, almost 12, is invited to go on a camping trip to Yellowstone Park with his new neighbors, the Rupes, and their 12-year-old son, Harry. Lewis's twin sister, Alison, is also asked along to help take care of the Rupes two younger children, Billy and Ariadne. At first the Dodge kids are excited by the prospect of nine days with the Rupes' lax rules—all the junk food and videos they can consume—but they soon realize that the trip will not be ideal. The Rupes are all spoiled; they think money can buy amusement, or atone for rudeness and neglect. (The Rupes don't even know that Billy is seriously nearsighted until Lewis tells them.) As Alison slavishly watches the children, Lewis comes upon a mystery: Two men have been following the Rupes' trailer since it left Washington State. When Billy finds a $100 bill in the trailer, Lewis thinks he knows what's going on. One night, thinking that everyone is out for the evening, the two men come looking for their stash. But instead of finding their money, they find the five children, kidnap them, and head toward the Canadian border. Because of the kids' ingenuity, however, they are foiled before they can leave Montana. The elder Rupes really are terrible, but the Dodge siblings come out of this diverting caper intact. The morals about the evils of lenient parenting aren't subtle, but Roberts (Caught, p. 563, etc.) delivers them well. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-689-31939-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

CORALINE

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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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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