SIX WORDS, MANY TURTLES, AND THREE DAYS IN HONG KONG

A weekend in the life of a Chinese girl in Hong Kong is the subject of this photo-essay from McMahon (Chi-Hoon, 1993), who does a good job of drawing universal parallels and regional distinctions. Eight-year-old Tsz Yan's school day may seem orderly and rigorous, but familiar faces—Minnie Mouse, Garfield—make appearances, allowing US readers to identify immediately. The 1998 fusion with China looms, leading to Tsz Yan's sensible musings—``Will Hong Kong still be itself when it becomes part of something so big?'' Then it is on to after-school daycare and homework—always homework—before her mother comes home from her day job and Dad returns from China, where he toils all week, for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are a buffet of Hong Kong pleasures: feeding bread to the turtles, a visit to the Ocean Park amusement complex, a ferry ride to Kowloon, a snack at McDonald's, a breakfast of dim sum, cousins watching Jackie Chan on television, family gatherings. Through it all, Tsz Yan saws away at her homework, mostly English words that she neatly ties in to the cultural stew of Hong Kong. The book is an excellent slice of living theater—with the text rolling along, the full- color photographs sharp, the colors and array of sights blinding, and the mood disarmingly matter-of-fact and authentic. (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-68621-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

CORALINE

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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