THERE'S A BOY IN THE GIRL'S BATHROOM

The fall and rise of Bradley Chalkers, class bully, are chronicled in this humorous, immensely appealing story. Bradley, 11, known alternatively as Chicken Chalkers and a "monster," is hated and feared by his fifth-grade classmates and teacher, teased unmercifully by his older sister, and treated warily by his well-meaning but ineffectual parents. He derives a modicum of comfort from playing with his only friends—a motley collection of little glass and brass animals. When Jeff, a new kid, arrives in class and offers friendship, a confused Bradley first demands a dollar or he'll spit on the newcomer; he later exchanges the dollar for Jeff's friendship. It's a shaky alliance at best, considering the state of Bradley's psyche and the fact that, as Jeff grows more comfortable, he begins to prefer his more well-adjusted classmates. Then, into Bradley's life comes Carla Davis, newly-hired school counselor. This lovely, caring young woman is a model of therapeutic wisdom, and it is their slow-to-grow, but eventually solid, relationship that helps Bradley to see himself as a worthy and capable individual, deserving of friendship, gold stars, and an invitation to a girl's birthday party. His transformation is beautiful to see, though, of course, there are mishaps, failures, and disappointments, as well as triumphs, some of which are quite moving, others highly comical. Even the happiest of children feel like misfits from time to time; most have also encountered bullies like Bradley. As the story moves along, readers will begin to sympathize with Bradley; they'll root for him, hoping he'll exchange his misfit status for reasonable contentment. Happily, readers are also likely to come away from the story with the sense that they've been rooting for themselves, too.

Pub Date: March 15, 1987

ISBN: 0394805720

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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