This satisfying slice-of-life story about the permutations of friendship and family resonates.

FRIENDSHIP OVER

From the Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine series , Vol. 1

A 10-year-old girl faces the various challenges of growing up.

For her 10th birthday, Celie Valentine Altman gets a punching bag and a journal from her father, both of which she puts to good use. Her most pressing problem is that her best friend, Lula, has stopped speaking to her. Celie has no idea why, though she knows it’s somehow connected to a fight she overheard between Lula’s parents. Losing a best friend is heartbreaking for a girl of that age, and Celie’s anger and confusion are palpable. Using a diary format and leavening her tale with humor, Sternberg gets Celie’s voice just right, and readers should find her completely credible. Though she’s kind and resourceful, Celie’s overarching trait is an anger that she has trouble controlling. She expresses her frustrations in words and pictures, and Wright’s spot-on black-and-white illustrations perfectly complement Sternberg’s text. Besides Lula’s mysterious defection, Celie must deal with her older and better-balanced sister, Jo; Jo’s new buddy, Trina, whom Celie dislikes; her embarrassing cousin Carla, who comes to babysit when Celie’s mother goes out of town; and her feelings about her suddenly addled grandmother.

This satisfying slice-of-life story about the permutations of friendship and family resonates. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59078-993-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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