STARTING WITH ALICE

From the Alice McKinley series , Vol. 1

Alice is back again, but this time she’s younger. In the first of three planned prequels to the extensive series about Alice McKinley, eight-year-old Alice moves to Tacoma Park, Maryland, from Chicago. Although written for a younger audience, this first-person narrative offers the same elements as those for older readers, dealing with friendship, family, and the embarrassments of childhood, all with good humor. Also as usual, Naylor (Simply Alice, p. 496, etc.) adds a tragedy—in this case, a relative’s death—but deals with its emotional impact only superficially, striking a false note in her otherwise perceptive portrayal of well-loved child. While this is an enjoyable story, and Alice and her family are as likable as ever, readers who love the series will miss the presence of Alice’s friends, Elizabeth, Pamela, and Patrick, who figure heavily in the other plots. Similarly, those who start with this prequel will encounter a major change in the cast of characters when Alice moves again in The Agony of Alice, originally the first book. Starting with Alice doesn’t fill in any important gaps in the backstory and, in fact, creates a few discrepancies—Alice has a good time with her cousin Carol in this prequel, but in The Agony of Alice, she doesn’t remember who Carol is. Nevertheless, this cheerful addition will find a ready audience among the younger siblings of Alice fans as well as the devoted older fans themselves, to whom Alice feels like a friend. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84395-X

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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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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