THE EYES OF THE AMARYLLIS

An atmospheric, romantic tale: of the sea, which "will take what it wants and keep what it has taken"; of a captain's widow who (truly forsaking all others) has been waiting 30 years for a sign from her drowned husband; of the old woman's son who fled in his youth from the treacherous sea—and perhaps from his mother's indifference; and of the granddaughter, also named Geneva, who goes to help when Gram breaks her ankle and who thus becomes involved in her desperate nightly search along the shore. There's another character too, named Seward, but only the two Genevas can see him or his footprints as he prowls the shore in the sea's employ, hoping to find the "sign" before Gram does so that he can return it according to the bargain he made with the sea when he was drowning years before. It was Seward who told Gram that the swallowed ships, with "all the poor drowned sailors," are kept at the bottom of the sea to guard its treasures, and that her husband was down there struggling to send her some sort of token. And when young Geneva retrieves from the waves the wooden figurehead carved in Gram's image long ago, it is Seward who warns that the sea will have it back because "the ship can't see without its eyes." But Gram is stubborn and it takes a hurricane to wrest it from her—and her son's arrival at the crucial moment to save her from drowning. This fortuitous last undercuts the seriousness of the tale, and there is more to come. Also, unlike Tuck Everlasting (which also had more life and incident), the plot of . . . the Amaryllis is somewhat precariously based—on a notion (the drowned treasure patrol) that is just not compelling enough for the elemental magnitude of the struggle. Still, as Babbit projects it, Gram's devotion—whether steadfast or obsessive—has its fascination.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1977

ISBN: 0312370083

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1977

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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