ELLEN TEBBITS

It seems obvious from this entrancing successor to Henry Huggins that the author is as well acquainted with the whisperings, weeps and whoops of third grade distaff side as she is with the ways of young men like Henry. Third grader, Ellen Tebbits, has her happiest dreams realized when she acquires a Best Friend, in the person of Austine Allen, who not only lives near enough to share after schools and Saturdays, but also is undoubtedly the only girl in the school besides Ellen who is forced to wear winter underwear. Together the friends weather crises — Ellen's campaign to win the honor of clapping erasers at school; a misadventure with a horse; and the shattering witticisms of the class's "uncooperative boy", Otis. Therefore when a quarrel divides the friends, the tragedy is overwhelming — not even Ellen's appointment as Substitute Rat in the Pied Piper of Hamelin, can lift the gloom. An eraser clapping session, however, patches the quarrel.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1951

ISBN: 0380709139

Page Count: 199

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1951

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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A sweet reminder that love is best measured in actions.

TINY T. REX AND THE PERFECT VALENTINE

Even when well-intended plans go awry, sometimes “I love you” is plastered all over one’s face.

Tiny T. Rex wants to make the perfect valentine for friend Pointy, a stegosaurus. It’s a noble ideal, but perfection is more elusive than the little theropod realized. That’s the premise of this charming board book that succinctly celebrates love, friendship, aspiration, perseverance, limitations, and the notion that it’s the thought that counts—especially when it’s clearly reflected in effort. Like its protagonist, this book is small, but it’s rich in value and works on every level. The artwork has an elegant simplicity that beautifully balances color, personality, and clever detail. A panel of Tiny designing the card in chalk on a blackboard, for example, reveals the scale of the little dino’s intentions: a giant heart, ribbons, smaller hearts dangling from springs, heart-shaped balloons, and fireworks, all much larger than Tiny. The project is clearly a labor of love: Tiny sweats, tugging a bucket of paint—“Pointy’s favorite color!”—but the bucket spills on the artist, not the valentine. Trying to make the card “extra fancy,” Tiny is covered in glitter. Tiny rips, snips, and rerips, trying to make the perfect heart; misspells Pointy; and glues springs and hearts all over everything. When Tiny apologizes for having no valentine for Pointy, Pointy recognizes immediately that the perfect valentine is a friend like Tiny.

A sweet reminder that love is best measured in actions. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8489-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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