THE WAINSCOTT WEASEL

In the gentle spirit of Seidler's A Rat's Tale (1986), a fantasy set on eastern Long Island in a well-established woodland community of weasels. Introspective, aristocratic Bagley Brown misses his chance of winning lovely Wendy Blackish while dreaming of Bridget—a wise, beautiful fish who sends him away because their relationship can come to nought. While Wendy dances (to the music of birds and crickets) with rough Zeke Whitebelly, and eventually agrees to marry him if she can lead sometimes, Bagley dutifully avoids Bridget. He agrees to be ``Best Weasel'' at Wendy's wedding but doesn't show up: ingeniously, and heroically, he's transporting the nest of an osprey (it's threatening Bridget) to another pond. The author's animal society is wonderfully amusing and consistent, with entertainingly uneasy relationships between predators and their possible prey (the weasels snitch eggs from a handy farm, so they aren't particularly bloodthirsty), poking fun at human foibles in witty dialogue that's well grounded in animal nature. The bittersweet end isn't wholly satisfying—lively Wendy seems too subtle for inarticulate Zeke—but Bagley's philosophical acceptance of Bridget's going to sea right after she seeks him out and agrees to be friends is right in character. Twenty-one of the 50 elegantly rendered illustrations are in full color; Marcellino's gracious compositions, delicate modeling, and amiable characterizations are in perfect tune with the engagingly imaginative story. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-205032-X

Page Count: 196

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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  • Newbery Honor Book

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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