KASPER IN THE GLITTER

Enticing young people to leave the brightly lit Glitter and join him in the decrepit part of town known as The Gloom, a parent-hating, teenage bully sets himself up as King Streetwise in this plodding British farce from Ridley (Krindlekrax, 1992, etc.). Kasper Whiskey, having spent all of his ten years with his indolent mother, Pumpkin, in her beauty parlor surrounded by leveled buildings, has never met anyone his age until the day he catches Heartthrob Mink, one of King Streetwise's troops, stealing roses. When Pumpkin's prized brooch disappears, Kasper sets out in pursuit. Streetwise is looking for Heartthrob, too, for helping his intended queen, Hushabye Brightwing, escape; Kasper joins the hunt but is so offended by the king's tactics that he switches sides and brings the two fugitives to the beauty parlor. Ultimately, Pumpkin turns over a new leaf, Heartthrob deals the king a black eye, the brooch turns up, and Hushabye declares her love for Kasper. Cautionary messages about bad friends and the dangers of running away are woven into a story that, for all its quirky elements and exaggerated characters, never hits the funny bone; few readers will notice that the king sounds like Elvis, nor will they attach much hilarity to repeated glimpses of Kasper's skill at whipping up a kind of banana cream pie. Riddell's black-and-white drawings have an expressive, graphic-novel-style sophistication, but can't leaven this leaden effort. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-525-45799-2

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books.

IF YOU COME SOFTLY

In a meditative interracial love story with a wrenching climactic twist, Woodson (The House You Pass on the Way, 1997, etc.) offers an appealing pair of teenagers and plenty of intellectual grist, before ending her story with a senseless act of violence.

Jeremiah and Elisha bond from the moment they collide in the hall of their Manhattan prep school: He’s the only child of celebrity parents; she’s the youngest by ten years in a large family. Not only sharply sensitive to the reactions of those around them, Ellie and Miah also discover depths and complexities in their own intense feelings that connect clearly to their experiences, their social environment, and their own characters. In quiet conversations and encounters, Woodson perceptively explores varieties of love, trust, and friendship, as she develops well-articulated histories for both families. Suddenly Miah, forgetting his father’s warning never to be seen running in a white neighborhood, exuberantly dashes into a park and is shot down by police. The parting thought that, willy-nilly, time moves on will be a colder comfort for stunned readers than it evidently is for Ellie.

Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-23112-9

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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