Left in a remote mountain pasture to care for 6000 sheep, a Wyoming rancher's 14-year-old son has a typical Paulsen series of adventures. Tink, loyal hand who usually watches the herd, is dying of cancer, and John's widowed dad is with him; the ranch's taciturn other hand helps get the sheep to the haymeadow and leaves John with little instruction. But the boy is capable and courageous; in just two days, he has to deal with a skunk, a rattlesnake, a wounded dog, a stampede, a flash flood, a pack of voracious coyotes, and an injury that nearly kills him; remarkably, he recovers with the loss of a few sheep and the labels off his canned goods—only to confront a vicious bear. After 47 days, his dad comes to report that Tink, miraculously, is recovering; he plans to leave next morning but—after the first real talk father and son have ever had—decides to stay on for the summer's last weeks. Good enough as an adventure; Paulsen's trademark run-on sentences keep it moving, and he certainly understands coping with the wild, though the perils here are so unbelievably many that they become laughable. Meanwhile, John's fixation on the self-reliant great-grandfather who founded the ranch is not well enough integrated with either the action or the present-day relationships to serve its ostensible purpose of motivating John's character and behavior. An entertaining yarn, but a minor literary effort. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-30621-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Sofia, growing up in an urban Latino neighborhood in McAllen, Texas, has a chance to attend an expensive boarding school in Austin on scholarship. Like her father, Sofia lives the life of the mind, rich with story and possibility. How can she convince her mother to let her take this opportunity? By learning to dance and showing her that she can leave home and still learn to become a good comadre. Canales, the author of the story collection Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (2001), is a graduate of Harvard Law School, suggesting that Sofia’s story at least closely parallels her own. She is an accomplished storyteller, though not yet, perhaps, a successful novelist. The episodic narrative has disconcerting leaps in time at the beginning, and a sense of completion, or a moral displayed, at several points throughout—all lacking the tension to carry the reader forward. This said, the characters and setting are so real to life that readers who connect with Sofia at the start will find many riches here, from a perspective that is still hard to find in youth literature. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-74674-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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