THE BROKEN BOY

When the Ferrises move in next door, where Solly Freedom's aged friend Mrs. Sawyer used to live, Solly's family takes their oddities in stride; after all, Solly's parents came of age in the 60's and have their own idiosyncracies. They are taken aback, however, when Daniel, apparently seeking refuge from his parents' shouting matches, becomes a frequent, silent presence in their home; but Solly and Daniel are soon friends; and when it develops that Daniel is mentally ill, the Freedoms are warmly supportive. Meanwhile, Daniel discovers the diary of Mrs. Sawyer's disabled son Martin, and concludes from Martin's soul-searching about his own condition and his war-traumatized father's death that there may be more for him in his next life. There are more than enough parallels and images here: every male is in some sense a ``broken boy,'' while several people are summed up as ``buffalo dimes'' or as ``annuals'' or ``perennials.'' Ackerman makes her point—life involves many repairs and much forgiveness—but then belabors it explicitly. And there are odd glitches: Why does the healthy, intelligent, albeit wheelchair-bound, Martin live in a ``hospice,'' apparently unemployed? How did his infirm mother manage alone for five years after he moved out? Still, the dialogue is witty and offbeat, the situation engrossing, the characters perceptively drawn, and the outcome moving and credible—though Daniel may not recover from his suicide attempt, others are seeking new reconciliations as a result of it. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-399-22254-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1991

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THE TEQUILA WORM

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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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

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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