SOMETIMEY FRIEND

It’s 1978 and good-hearted Sylvia Freeman is getting ready for fifth grade at a new school with her newly discovered family. Hart picks up where Secret Holes (2003) ended, in Wakeview, S.C. Here Sylvia says goodbye to her mother for the first time and is left with her “best friend and great-grandmother,” Miz Lula May. Sylvia’s start of school is a bit rocky and becomes even more challenging when she receives a note that makes fun of Miz Lula May. Self-conscious and worried, Sylvia is embarrassed about her great-grandmother’s age, her slightly worn house and her other quirky relatives. Though Sylvia’s first-person narrative is spunky and honest, the dialect is jumpy and inconsistent, sometimes changing mid-sentence. Readers will wonder why Sylvia’s mother is gone so long—even Sylvia wonders, but her question is never answered. The strength of this story is not so much the Southern atmosphere or an evocation of the time, but in the relationship between Sylvia and her family. Those who’ve read the first two installments in Sylvia’s life will want to continue with this one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-57505-866-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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