A STRING OF CHANCES

The prospective fictional pitfalls are many: 16-year-old Evie Hutchins, a backwoods-Maryland preacher's daughter, is spending the summer in the "godless household" of cousin Donna lean and her husband Tom—where, inevitably, her faith will waver and her own home, locked into ritual and good works, will lose something of its luster. But Naylor manages the crucial situation—the at-home birth and devastating "crib death" of Donna lean and Tom's baby—with sufficient emotional conviction (and infant-nurture detail) to carry Evie's self-searchings along. The book is still largely a composite, in which the various strands gradually and salubriously merge. Evie's loathed cousin Matt demonstrates that a skeptic can be a healthy influence and a moral bulwark. Her personable love-interest, Chris, turns out to be rather a lightweight. Her father's acceptance, even defense of Matt proves him not to be a narrow-minded zealot. Her sister Rose, who lost Tom to Donna lean, takes the first step toward reconciliation by attending baby Josh's funeral—and Donna Jean, crushed by Josh's death, takes the answering step of spending a restorative day at the Hutchins'. Erie, meanwhile, takes heart from the healing of breaches and the tolerance of doubts, and even begins to think seriously of Matt—whom we recognize early on as her counterpart in the search for selfhood. There's a lot of worthiness, in short, but the fluent, low-key storytelling, plus the vivid presence of baby Josh, will probably prevent readers from recognizing the underlying manipulation.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1982

ISBN: 0449700755

Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1982

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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