In a patchy but engaging short novel, a child cures a hurt of her own by battering down the emotional walls an injured man has erected around himself. A year after her father died of a heart attack while fishing in his beloved river, Lily watches fences going up around her former home, and resolves that they won’t keep her out. She loves—and blames—the river, and finds, in the house’s new owner, someone who is just as ambivalent about the sky: Paraplegic ex-test pilot T.R. Tracy considered the sky safe before a crash robbed him of the use of his legs. Lily ignores T.R.’s attempts to fend her off, and they quickly become friends. Although Lily doesn’t make T.R. a “project,” readers will understand how she draws him out of his self-imposed shell; on the other hand, a string of activities with her friend Laura is only weakly connected to the main story, and T.R., though wheelchair-bound, gets around with suspicious ease. The supporting characters are sketchy, but Lily is as irresistible as a force of nature, and the northern Michigan setting has almost as much presence. In the end, T.R. accepts an offer to test aircraft adapted for disabled pilots, and Lily discovers that her grief is no longer quite so sharp. The story never really comes together, but readers will appreciate Lily’s take- no-prisoners style of dealing with adults. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8028-5155-X

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1998

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A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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“Hear, and listen well, my friends, and I will tell you a tale that has been told for a thousand years and more.” It’s not exactly a rarely told tale, either, though this complete rendition is distinguished by both handsome packaging and a prose narrative that artfully mixes alliterative language reminiscent of the original, with currently topical references to, for instance, Grendel’s “endless terror raids,” and the “holocaust at Heorot.” Along with being printed on heavy stock and surrounded by braided borders, the text is paired to colorful scenes featuring a small human warrior squaring off with a succession of grimacing but not very frightening monsters in battles marked by but a few discreet splashes of blood. Morpurgo puts his finger on the story’s enduring appeal—“we still fear the evil that stalks out there in the darkness . . . ”—but offers a version unlikely to trouble the sleep of more sensitive readers or listeners. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-3206-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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