ALL BUT ALICE

From the Alice McKinley series , Vol. 7

Naylor is a versatile, prolific author whose achievements have just been crowned with a Newbery; her books about Alice (this is the fourth) are many readers' favorites, with good reason: laugh-aloud funny, they also explore real concerns with unusual frankness and compassion. Here, Alice is still in seventh grade, in the throes of bowing to her peers' decrees; suddenly one of the "beautiful people" in her class, she hangs around with old friend Pamela and some boys she has the wit to think of as the "Three Handsome Stooges." Earrings are now a big deal: there's a club, and every weekend is devoted to buying and trading; it takes Alice a while to admit to herself that it's all boring, and that she dislikes excluding old friend Elizabeth, who doesn't want pierced ears. Meanwhile, Dad is dating one of her teachers; brother Lester gets serious about an old flame; and Alice ponders the "Sisterhood" of all women and discovers that Patrick is still a good friend, more fun than the Stooges. An appealing character with real integrity and memorable humor. Fans can rejoice: Naylor plans to take Alice "to her eighteenth year. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-689-31773-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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LUNCH MONEY

Budding billionaire Greg Kenton has a knack for making money and a serious rival. When he issues his first Chunky Comic Book at the beginning of sixth grade, his neighbor and classmate Maura Shaw produces an alternative. Their quarrel draws the attention of the principal, who bans comics from the school. But when they notice all the other commercial messages in their school, they take their cause to the local school committee. Without belaboring his point, Clements takes on product placement in schools and the need for wealth. “Most people can only use one bathroom at a time,” says Greg’s math teacher, Mr. Z. Greg gets the message; middle-grade readers may ignore it in favor of the delightful spectacle of Greg’s ultimate economic success, a pleasing result for the effort this up-and-coming young businessman puts into his work. Clements weaves intriguing information about comic book illustration into this entertaining, smoothly written story. Selznick’s accompanying black-and-white drawings have the appearance of sketches Greg might have made himself. This hits the jackpot. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-86683-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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