LOSERS, INC.

An unusual look at a good kid trying to stay good in the face of the pressures of early adolescence. Ethan and his best friend, Julius, have always taken pride in their mediocrity. Unlike his perfect older brother, Peter, Julius does the least he can get away with, and gets as much in return. When a beautiful student teacher joins his class, Ethan wants to impress her by excelling, which alienates Julius and makes Lizzie, the despised class poet, fall in love with him. To discourage her, Ethan reluctantly participates in a cruel prank. Mills (Dinah Forever, 1995, etc.) keeps the story firmly grounded in realistic concerns and events: Ethan gives it his best but doesn't win the science fair; Lizzie's poetry is pretty good but always childlike; Peter is popular for a good reason—he's genuinely nice and works hard. Best of all, despite Julius's defensive attempts to play the loser, he is a friend to hold on to. Ethan's thoughtful struggle to grow up while hanging on to his basic decency makes for an involving, often poignant, always satisfying story. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 3, 1997

ISBN: 0-374-34661-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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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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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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