Five fresh, witty tales, each firmly grounded in an ordinary, sharply drawn setting in the contemporary US, its fantasy developed with endearing logic exemplified by the title- -in the first story, Rachel is annoyed because Lauren, who ``painted stupid blood'' on her mummy outfit, won the costume contest. Rachel's sarcophagus costume is far cleverer; moreover, it transports her (and her friend) to Egypt for a chilling adventure that leads to the girls' reconciliation. In ``The Paper Bag Genie,'' another trick-or-treater rescues a genie who's been trapped by an unimaginative restauranteur who's only using him to do dishes. ``Annie's Pet Witch'' has a gangster's vocabulary and a comical diet of Brillo pads, a jack-o'-lantern (with candle), eye shadow, etc.; and Kevin, in ``The Mystery of the One-Eyed Dog,'' works out the connection between Miss Dulcie's prized coconut cake and the disappearance of a series of old gentlemen. With a mellower flavor than Judith Gorog's tales and an equally original sense of the bizarre, Whitcher's new voice—precisely tuned to the idiosyncracies of her entertaining stories—is welcome indeed. Illustrations not seen. (Short stories. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1993

ISBN: 0-374-36213-0

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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