ALICE ON THE OUTSIDE

From the Alice McKinley series , Vol. 14

Still alertly navigating the shoals of early adolescence, Alice turns 14 in the 11th installment of her often hilarious, always perceptive odyssey. Before her birthday, however, she gains some insight into the nature of prejudice from a week-long consciousness-raising exercise at school; watches friend Pamela flirt with a wilder lifestyle; observes her brother Lester’s anything-but-tranquil love life; and gracefully fields a pass from a female classmate. Although the various continuing plot lines of the series don’t hurtle along, they’re not ignored, either, and Naylor again demonstrates her gift for embedding savvy advice and frank specifics about sex and growing up seamlessly into common situations. By the end, Alice’s own romantic situation is looking decidedly bright; although her boyfriend Patrick comes down with mononucleosis, leaving her solo at the eighth-grade dance, he also shows endearing awkwardness in the kissing department and melts her utterly with a front yard serenade on the night of her birthday. Fans will leap aboard enthusiastically, but readers new to the series will have to catch earlier books first for some background. Sail on, Alice. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80359-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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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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