OUTRAGEOUSLY ALICE

From the Alice McKinley series , Vol. 12

At 13, Alice thinks her life deserves a prize for "most boring"; she can't see anything special or interesting about herself. She's mortified by her ignorance when she takes a sensuality quiz at a bridal shower, certain that if her mother were alive, she'd be more on top of the things an eighth grade girl should know—instead, she's still just muddling through with her father and her brother, Lester. Alice decides to change her image, donning green eyeshadow (a lot of it) and one day even spiking her hair with green mousse. Her self-improvement campaign includes trying some new activities, and she develops a real interest in photography. For readers, it's what Alice does when she's not trying to be outrageous that counts: She helps her friend Pamela with family problems, keeps a cool head when her father falls off a ladder, roots for him in his quest to win Miss Summer's hand, and knows how and where to draw the line when an older boy makes unwelcome advances. Naylor (Alice in Lace, 1996, etc.) makes sure Alice is herself, the same girl readers have loved in eight previous books. As usual, her story is told with grace and economy, liberally laced with humor, and brimming with serious feelings as well. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-689-80354-0

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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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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