Nick Karpinski finds he must cope at home with his father's sudden plunge into mental illness while pretending that nothing is wrong. Eighth-grader Nick lives with his father, Jacob, and mother, Wanda, in a modest Chicago apartment. One day Jacob quits his job at Life Trust Insurance. Nick and Wanda don't press the taciturn Jacob to tell them why, and are relieved when he gets a new job. But soon Jacob leaves it as signs of mental illness surface. Jacob is suffering paranoid delusions, suspecting everyone of being a Communist; he feels he will be assassinated because he "knows too much." Wanda is ashamed to seek outside help or even breathe a word about it. Nick gets a part-time job to support the family, and falls into a nightmarish existence of living the life of a normal student during the day, his father's keeper through sleepless nights. He finds no easy answers and no real help from his uncle or the family priest. After Jacob brings home a rifle, Nick convinces the police that his father should be hospitalized and, against his will, Jacob is committed. Now the burden will be shared and Nick can rebuild his life. This is a rewarding book, well-written and careful in delineation of character and mood. Naylor wisely doesn't attempt to pinpoint the exact cause of Jacob's illness nor promise a miracle cure. Instead she focuses on the unwelcome and painful choices a boy must make for a father who can no longer function.

Pub Date: March 1, 1986

ISBN: 0553268821

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1986

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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