REMEMBERING THE GOOD TIMES

One of Peck's more serious young novels, this is the story of three friends—four, if you count Kate's tart great-grandmother Polly, who completes their daily gathering for cards and conversation. It is told by Buck, the most placid among them, and focuses on what culminates in the suicide of Trav, the most troubled. Of the three young people, classmates at Slocum Township Junior High, the determined Kate, a natural leader and do-er, is "a hardcore Slo" (a rural local), Tray a well-off but alienated "Sub" (one of the IBM kids, punks, and preppies who inhabit the new subdivisions), and Buck a different sort of newcomer who lives in a trailer with his divorced hard-hat father and doesn't know where he belongs, but doesn't seem to worry. Trav, on the other hand, is always worried: about Soviet strategy in Latin America, about SATs two years early, about growing up in general. Unaccountably, on the night Kate is starring in the school play, Tray lands in the police station, caught shoplifting little kids' toys. Shipped off to an uncle's farm, he returns oddly calm, then hangs himself. Looking back, his shaken friends can see it coming, but can't explain it. Neither, it seems, can Peck, which makes the story seem oddly unresolved. Still, that's certainly preferable to a facile psychological case history; and the whole account has an air of firmly planted, strongly felt reality.

Pub Date: April 5, 1985

ISBN: 0440973392

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1985

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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