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Children's Literature"In the old days, they had Indians, wild animals, pirates and dragons. They had witches. Now—burglars. You have to take the bad along with the good." Such is the common sense, practical thinking of Connie Ives, age 10, the famous swinger in the alley. Any old alley usually conjures up images of garbage, decrepit homes, homeless people and animals, but not this alley. This alley is beautiful—an oasis for the residents on the campus of Grandby College in the heart of Brooklyn. The story is an account of life in this alley from mid-May to June one year. It is a story of mystery, trust, adventure and families, but mostly a story of friendships. Estes weaves the characters effortlessly into the tapestry of Connie's life at this age. From her southern grandmother, Nanny—to best friends Billy and Katy—to the "Bullet-head man"—the characters all make an impression on Connie and her life. The apex of this work is a burglary that happens in Connie's home and her own detective prowess to solve it. The book was originally written in a simpler era, and the thought of being involved in a burglary today may not be everyone's choice of reading escape. The flow is so gentle and the characters so calm in dealing with issues that a fear is never sensed in this novel. There is more a sense of solving a mystery and learning who you can trust, which makes for a pleasant read. Girls may enjoy this more than their male counterparts, but it would be a great choice for classroom as well as leisure reading. 2003 (orig. 1964), Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12.
— Elizabeth Young