FLIP-FLOP GIRL

Paterson writes of today's gritty reality in an easily read story about a fourth grader whose father's death has thrown her family out of balance. Momma has moved them to backwater Virginia to live with Daddy's stepmother ("Nurses can always get jobs. They just can't get a lot of money"); Vinnie has lost her home, a best friend, and—because 5-year-old brother Mason hasn't spoken since the funeral—Momma's attention. Grandma, too, is a trial; she buys Vinnie ugly clothes at the Salvation Army and insists on making her teacher an embarrassing Christmas present. Mr. Clayton is Vinnie's one comfort, sensitive to his pupils' troubles and source of unobtrusive gifts—barrettes to hold Vinnie's hair out of her eyes; shoes for Lupe, who only has flip- flops and whose troubles are greater than Vinnie's: her father's in prison for killing her mother (Lupe is sure he's not guilty). Mr. Clayton marries; affection-starved Vinnie feels so betrayed that she slashes his car with her barrette and—in an agony of guilt when Lupe is blamed—lashes out at Mason, who runs away. Repentant, Vinnie goes to look for him, willingly aided by Lupe, whose generosity and plucky survival in the face of local prejudice subtly contrast with Vinnie's unreasoned, more childlike response to her losses. Once again, Paterson sets characters drawn with extraordinary empathy in a story distinguished by its overarching theme. Vinnie is ordinary, fallible; but with the help of Lupe's quietly courageous model of grace—plus the values enduring in her own family—she reclaims her equilibrium. Touching, engrossing, beautifully wrought. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-525-67480-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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