LOST!

In this story within a story, a grandmother entertains her granddaughter with a string story when the girl laments the loss of electricity during a storm that eliminates all her usual forms of electronic entertainment. The internal story concerns a girl who goes into a snowstorm to find and bring home her wounded dog. She survives due to her wits and resourcefulness. On each page, a string figure becomes a part of the story, with the figure displayed at the bottom of the page in miniature. The grandmother confides that she was the girl in the story and challenges her granddaughter to think of something to do without the use of electricity. In a nice open-ended finale, the girl is seen starting her own string story. Back matter contains a brief history of string figures (“the handheld video games of their time”), instructions on making a string loop, carefully illustrated step-by-step directions for making each figure, and a bibliography. Fleischman’s (Big Talk, 2000, etc.) figures are new inventions, but require common moves. They build on each other and many of them have potential for movement (the bow “shoots”). The illustrations created in ink on clayboard look like fine etchings and are appropriate to the old-fashioned tale. Unfortunately, a creaky, didactic opening introduces a grandmother whose speech is unbelievably quaint for a 21st-century woman acquainted with modern technology. Nevertheless, this unique book offers several fascinating points of entry and will be enjoyed in many ways. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-5583-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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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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Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

CORALINE

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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