RADIANCE DESCENDING

Fox (The Eagle Kite, 1995, etc.) offers acute psychological insight into a boy's feelings of anger and rejection, fears about what his classmates will think, and his loss of ``normal'' family life when his brother, who has Down syndrome, is born. From the opening pages, readers gain a strong, worrying sense of how Paul feels about his younger brother, without being shown (until much later) just what it is about Jacob's looks and behavior that so upsets him. Only his grandfather seems to understand, writing Paul special letters, taking him on outings, and making gentle attempts to persuade Paul to accept Jacob. The only peace Paul finds is in a nearby woods; it is there he runs to escape Jacob's birthday party, and it's there Grandpa finds him in the book's epiphany. It's also where the story's hold begins to abate, as Fox brings it to a rapid close without the intensely articulated examination of feelings that has filled the preceding pages. Other than Grandpa's admission that Jacob is ``an eerie child at times,'' there's no explanation of what it is that changes in Paul, making him want to build a relationship with his brother. But if only for the authentic delineation of a loving family's coping with one member's special needs, this is a worthwhile, poignant story. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-7894-2467-3

Page Count: 101

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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