Whether aimed at certain public figures or all of us, a pointed suggestion that tantrums bring but temporary, superficial...



A cautionary fable on the banality of belligerence.

Fausto—dapper, balding, and tanned (but presenting white)—believes he owns everything and sets out to prove it. “You are mine,” he declares to everything he meets, from a flower to a mountain, compelling increasingly reluctant submission by yelling, clenching his fist, and stomping. Only the sea denies him, asking how he could own anything he doesn’t even love, and inviting Fausto to make good on his angry threat to show it who’s boss. Trying to stomp on the sea (combined with an inability to swim) ends predictably for Fausto…whereupon all of the overgrown toddler’s “possessions” go on about their business, indifferent to his fate. With typically measured minimalism Jeffers relates this timely episode in prose and gestural images so spare that they frequently give way to single lines and even blank pages. In place of an explicit moral, he closes with an anecdote from Kurt Vonnegut, who quotes fellow writer Joseph Heller’s insight that “the knowledge that I’ve got enough” gave him a leg up over any billionaire. Even readers too young or unschooled to catch the reference in the title character’s name will chime in on Vonnegut’s summation: “Not bad! Rest in peace!”

Whether aimed at certain public figures or all of us, a pointed suggestion that tantrums bring but temporary, superficial rewards. (Picture book. 7-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-11501-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Korman’s trademark humor makes this an appealing read.


Will a bully always be a bully?

That’s the question eighth-grade football captain Chase Ambrose has to answer for himself after a fall from his roof leaves him with no memory of who and what he was. When he returns to Hiawassee Middle School, everything and everyone is new. The football players can hardly wait for him to come back to lead the team. Two, Bear Bratsky and Aaron Hakimian, seem to be special friends, but he’s not sure what they share. Other classmates seem fearful; he doesn’t know why. Temporarily barred from football because of his concussion, he finds a new home in the video club and, over time, develops a new reputation. He shoots videos with former bullying target Brendan Espinoza and even with Shoshanna Weber, who’d hated him passionately for persecuting her twin brother, Joel. Chase voluntarily continues visiting the nursing home where he’d been ordered to do community service before his fall, making a special friend of a decorated Korean War veteran. As his memories slowly return and he begins to piece together his former life, he’s appalled. His crimes were worse than bullying. Will he become that kind of person again? Set in the present day and told in the alternating voices of Chase and several classmates, this finding-your-middle-school-identity story explores provocative territory. Aside from naming conventions, the book subscribes to the white default.

Korman’s trademark humor makes this an appealing read. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-05377-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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