ACHINGLY ALICE

From the Alice McKinley series , Vol. 13

Readers who have, with Alice, been waiting impatiently for her widowed father and favorite teacher, Miss Summers, to pick a date will have to wait some more; the Alice series (Outrageously Alice, 1997, etc.) continues to feature comic twists, comfortably familiar characters who still have surprises to reveal, and a plot that includes some serious issues. As she tries to decide whether to stick with boyfriend Patrick or play the field, Alice accompanies Elizabeth on her first visit to a gynecologist and gets an earful afterward, goes from the high of having Miss Summers over for Christmas to the low of hearing that she spent New Year’s Eve with another man, ruminates about topics as diverse as masturbation and careers, participates in a class project designed to analyze deceptive TV commercials, and struggles to cope with Miss Summers’s devastating announcement that she’ll be spending the next year in England as part of a teacher exchange. Naylor continues to usher Alice, and readers, toward adolescence with this well-knit, frequently hilarious story, cemented with buckets full of information, reassurance, and common sense. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-689-80355-9

Page Count: 121

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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THE NIGHT DANCE

Weak writing ruins a nicely structured integration of Arthurian legend with a Grimm’s fairy tale. Rowena’s locked up with her 11 sisters because her father’s afraid that they’ll disappear like their mother, Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake. Each night they disappear underground, where dancing destroys their elegant slippers. Elsewhere, Sir Bedivere promises a dying King Arthur to return Excalibur to Vivienne. Bedivere and Rowena share reciprocal mystical visions in which they fall in love. The sisters’ nightly dancing, as well as their goal of finding their lost mother, leads to the same enchanted underground lake as Bedivere’s task of honor. Details of “Twelve Dancing Princesses” are skillfully woven in with the Camelot plot; however, the text is cluttered with modifiers, the narration is unsubtle and trite and the workings of magic are shallow. Instead, see Vivian Vande Velde’s Book of Mordred (July 2005) and Dia Calhoun’s Phoenix Dance (October 2005). (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4169-0579-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2005

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GETTING TO FIRST BASE WITH DANALDA CHASE

Using baseball as a guide for dating, Beam, in his U.S. debut, hits a grand-slam. When seventh-grader Darcy Spillman becomes smitten with beautiful and popular Danalda Chase, he hopes to “get to first base” with her. Of course, first he has to ask her out, and Darcy isn’t sure Danalda even knows he exists. Normally, Darcy would turn to his Grandpa Spillman for advice, but Grandpa is showing the early signs of Alzheimer’s. Instead, he turns to the new girl, Kamna, who suggests that Darcy should try out for the Cheetahs, his middle school’s baseball team. That would certainly win Danalda’s favor. Unfortunately, when the two finally go out, Danalda lives up to her reputation of being superficial, leaving Darcy unimpressed. It turns out that it’s Kamna he’d rather be with. Using baseball terms as his chapter headings, followed by definitions, Beam has managed to write a story that is fresh, funny and appealing to lovers and lovers of baseball, both male and female. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-525-47578-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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