BEN, KING OF THE RIVER

Continuing this publisher's efforts to offer well-written stories about special problems, Chad, who appears to be about nine, describes a family camping trip that includes his five-year-old brother Ben, who is developmentally disabled. Gifaldi (Rearranging, 1998, etc.) doesn't gloss over problems; for example, other kids at the campsite tease and stare at Ben, who screams and cries when encountering a new experience, like dragonflies. His many problems affect Chad's life, too: he can't have a pet, for instance. Ben can be a nuisance, but he is also quick to hug and show affection, and here he is shown in the context of a lovely and supportive family. The author provides an afterword by his own 13-year-old nephew, who discusses living with his brother. The title concludes with tips for living with a disabled sibling and a Web site support group for siblings. The watercolor illustrations are merely competent, but have an awkward charm, especially when focusing on the faces of Ben and Chad appearing joyful, sulky, angry, or fearful. A useful title for discussion with general as well as special populations. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8075-0635-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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A deceptively simple, warmhearted tale, particularly apt for chapter-book readers with similar experiences or an interest in...

TWO FOR JOY

When feisty great-aunt Britannia falls and hurts herself for the fourth time in two years, 8-year-old Jenna and her mom, a nurse, invite “Tannie” to come and live with them.

But the strong-willed, widowed Tannie, an avid birder who once could fly an airplane and ride a motorcycle, isn’t quite ready to give up her Mississippi farm and move in with her beloved relatives in Virginia. Eventually Tannie relents. Although Jenna appreciates having her great-aunt’s inspiring spirit nearby, soon Tannie’s needs cut into the maternal attentiveness Jenna has come to expect. Learning to accept change and to ask for help become challenges for all of the characters, as transitioning into an intergenerational threesome is presented as an ongoing process. Amateau’s experiences with caregiving and her work in the world of aging and disability services inform this mildly generic, timeless story. Refreshing aspects include an adventurous older female character striving to remain vital and the mutually respectful relationship between Jenna and her mother, who is the primary parent after divorce.

A deceptively simple, warmhearted tale, particularly apt for chapter-book readers with similar experiences or an interest in multigenerational stories. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3010-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Welcome back, Annie and Simon

BANANA MUFFINS AND OTHER STORIES

From the Annie and Simon series

A glimpse at sibling love in a book for newly independent readers, the third Annie and Simon book.

It’s rare to see teenagers depicted in books for young readers, but O’Neill’s series fills this void with its depiction of little sister Annie and her “big, big brother,” Simon, both of whom are white. The three slice-of-life stories that make up the book are focused on their interactions, with Simon acting as both a caregiver and companion. Their dynamic isn’t totally smooth, which keeps it feeling realistic and not nearly as sweet as the chocolate chips that Annie sneaks into the titular banana muffins they bake. They also show camaraderie and cooperation when caring for their neighbor’s baby, Theo (illustrations depict him and his father as black), and when rescuing their dog from a close call with a porcupine. These are quiet stories, with gentle humor infused in the dialogue and muted watercolor illustrations that overemphasize Simon’s gangly frame. The vocabulary and length of the text will place it out of reach for emergent readers in need of more robust verbal controls. Readers on the precipice of transitioning to chapter books will find this good preparation.

Welcome back, Annie and Simon . (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7498-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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