ABSOLUTELY ALFIE AND THE PRINCESS WARS

From the Absolutely Alfie series , Vol. 4

It is almost Halloween in Oak Glen, California, and 7-year-old Alfleta “Alfie” Jakes and her 11-year-old brother, EllRay, are deciding what costumes to wear.

Oak Glen Primary School is having a Halloween parade, and both siblings want to look great. Alfie is not quite sure about hers yet, but no matter what she chooses, she wants to “fit in” after some interactions that have left her feeling out of place. At a sleepover, a friend opines that farmers market vegetables are “dirty” even though Mrs. Jakes shops there, and on “Cute Barrette Day” Alfie feels different because her hair isn’t “floppy and loose.” When new girl Bella Babcock invites Alfie over to play, she suggests their being bunnies together. It’s perfect! But when Alfie hears the other second-grade girls in Mr. Havens’ class share what costumes they think are best, she begins to doubt herself. Soon the titular princess war breaks out. Mr. Havens calls a meeting to settle it, and Alfie suggests that all the girls could be princesses. Everyone seems to like this idea except Bella, who still wants to be a bunny. What to do? This fourth addition to the Absolutely Alfie series presents a stressful scenario readers will recognize, and they’ll appreciate seeing how Alfie manages this social conundrum with the loving support of her African-American family. Malone’s spot illustrations reinforce Warner’s descriptions of a class in which Alfie and another black girl are the “only two girls with brown skin” in their friend group, who mostly present white except for one girl with Asian features.

Charming and sweet. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-99995-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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