THE FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

A brilliantly crafted, shocking account, narrated by a teenager, of her mother's chronic incompetence and her own sexual abuse; it will slice readers to the bone less for its tragic details than for the casual, ingenuous tone in which they are revealed. In an indignant response to a social worker's unflattering report, Linda, 13, describes how, after the death of her father, she cared for first one, and then two, brothers as her mother took up with a succession of men, abandoned her for months to a senile widower, and found a job at last, working for a married businessman, Jack Green, who ultimately seduced Linda. Rejecting the social worker's contention that she was raped, Linda claims to have felt only mild impatience with Green the first time, and her childish pleasure at his gifts and toys is clear. She admits to no strong feelings even after Green is murdered, although her sometimes violent actions contradict her reasonable tone; hints that some of her ``facts'' may be imaginary only deepen the contrast. Readers may admire Linda for maintaining even an illusion of control, but will also see that she has inherited her mother's bad judgment, and that neither her story nor her promises can be trusted—a recipe for a troubled future. A raw, powerful character study of someone trying to construct a particular version of reality, and failing, because the ``facts'' tell a different story. Cole shows real literary chops in a book whose aesthetic merits outrun, by far, the ethics police. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1997

ISBN: 1-886910-14-6

Page Count: 186

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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RAMONA'S WORLD

Ramona returns (Ramona Forever, 1988, etc.), and she’s as feisty as ever, now nine-going-on-ten (or “zeroteen,” as she calls it). Her older sister Beezus is in high school, baby-sitting, getting her ears pierced, and going to her first dance, and now they have a younger baby sister, Roberta. Cleary picks up on all the details of fourth grade, from comparing hand calluses to the distribution of little plastic combs by the school photographer. This year Ramona is trying to improve her spelling, and Cleary is especially deft at limning the emotional nuances as Ramona fails and succeeds, goes from sad to happy, and from hurt to proud. The grand finale is Ramona’s birthday party in the park, complete with a cake frosted in whipped cream. Despite a brief mention of nose piercing, Cleary’s writing still reflects a secure middle-class family and untroubled school life, untouched by the classroom violence or the broken families of the 1990s. While her book doesn’t match what’s in the newspapers, it’s a timeless, serene alternative for children, especially those with less than happy realities. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16816-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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