While Selznick trusts readers to draw their own conclusions about what is true, he offers rich companionship on the voyage.

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KALEIDOSCOPE

In his most complex work to date, Selznick examines the unique realities surrounding love and death.

Seeking knowledge of the world on his 13th birthday, the unnamed narrator sets sail with his friend James (both are assumed White). A storm carries them to the Moon, where James brilliantly defends the night and sleep in a battle with the Sun, because “without dreams, everything dies.” He is crowned king, and the protagonist wonders how he will live without him back on Earth. Twenty-three more chapters reveal dreamlike (nonlinear, often phantasmagorical) fragments of the boys’ relationship, before and after separation/death. Each is introduced by an exquisite, graphite illustration that is preceded by a symmetrical, kaleidoscopic version of the scene: These provide foreshadowing, focus, and an aura of spiritual mystery. Settings involving shattered glass or mysterious forest lights like “the entire world had turned into jewels” further the titular provocation. While the deftly constructed chapters could stand alone, the author plants images—biblical, mythological, scientific, Sendak-ian, and even David Bowie–esque—that shift and reappear: The last view of the apple, served by a dragon, leads the protagonist to ponder a (post-Edenic) life with answers but without wonder. Labyrinths, angels, clocks, butterflies, and clasped hands resurface, prompting contemplation of fear, solace, the fluidity of time, the thrill of connection. How do you find/feel love after death? How do you live with grief?

While Selznick trusts readers to draw their own conclusions about what is true, he offers rich companionship on the voyage. (author's note) (Fiction. 11-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-77724-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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