A fresh, emotionally complex bildungsroman of young American love that looks long and hard at violence, and at what can...

MELT

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

In Castrovilla’s (Revolutionary Friends, 2013, etc.) YA novel, a teenager finds an existential crisis in a doughnut shop—and a love like no other.

When straight-laced 16-year-old Dorothy meets rough-edged 17-year-old Joey at a Dunkin’ Donuts in her new home of Highland Park, her friend Amy warns her to keep her distance. But she can’t ignore the fact that she and Joey are drawn to each other. She’s a stereotypical “good girl”; her parents, both successful professionals, regularly quiz her on her whereabouts and watch for truancy. Joey, on the other hand, is a quintessential lost soul: a paradoxical, convoluted figure whose violent past has left him with literal scars. He’s also physically intimidating, with a reputation to match, but it’s a façade that masks his sensitive, traumatized interior. Joey’s father, a police officer who beats his family, is another obstacle to his happiness, and as Dorothy does her utmost to save Joey from a life of alcoholism and nihilism, his father stands in the way, a perpetual source of danger. Joey and Dorothy must find their way as they struggle with doubt and fear for their lives. The story is told from Joey’s and Dorothy’s first-person points of view, alternating between snappy prose and jagged, sharp-edged poetry that evokes the terror of violence and the ecstasy of infatuation. The author sugarcoats nothing in this tale of adolescence and anxiety, nor does she paint its characters with a broad brush. Dorothy and Joey’s plight is both an inner and an outer struggle, a reckoning with a cold world, and a psychological drama about the stakes of truth-telling that ends with a gratifying act of mercy.

A fresh, emotionally complex bildungsroman of young American love that looks long and hard at violence, and at what can overcome it.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0991626106

Page Count: -

Publisher: Last Syllable Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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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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