Seven fresh tales from the author of Some of the Kinder Planets focus on what seem to be ordinary events: a frantic search for inspiration for a class project, a chance to appear a hero to a younger child, the tyranny of a class bully. Yet with his prowess for crafting each tale so that it neatly comes full circle, Wynne-Jones makes the quotidian well worth reading about. In "Dawn," the standout of the volume, two strands of plot are affectingly joined together. Here a boy named Barnsey is traveling on a bus when he meets Dawn, who lets him listen to a special audiocassette. Days later, after learning that his parents are divorcing, the boy discovers that while he slept Dawn had slipped the tape into his bag, and he is able to pass her soothing gift on to his hurting father. The characters' on-target thoughts and banter attest to the author's familiarity with-and compassion for-today's kids. Ages 8-12. Oct.
- Judy Silverman
In this collection of short stories, only one has the actual I Ching, or Book of Changes, in it. Because the seven stories are about adolescents, however, changes take place all the time. The young people sound and act like real people-we're sure we know someone exactly like Dwight, Kenny, Solly, and Boz. We went to school with a bully like Howie, and had know-it-all Julia Peach in our class. These stories are meaningful behind the fun.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9Like the various hexagram combinations of the I Ching, around which a school project in the title story revolves, these seven short stories hold wonder and fascination for inquisitive readers. Wynne-Jones invents a nine-earringed, purple-Mohawked oracle; a Chinese warlord with a penchant for cranberry juice; a bully mesmerized by a Donald Duck impression; a frantic teen who pursues his ``developmentally challenged'' uncle through the neighborhood one pleasant Saturday morning; a young TV Guide salesman who runs away from his customers and finds an articulate little girl desperately in need of a big brother; and a fourth-generation hockey star who confesses to the statue of his great-grandfather that he doesn't love the game. Other than their Ontario settings, the only thread that ties the selections together is Wynne-Jones's magical, adolescent-narrative voice. The stories tend to be open-ended, something that may disappoint those who like closure. Subtlety and wisdom abound, though, and readers will find the foibles of the empathetic characters creeping back into their consciousness and conversations. From the poignancy of a parent leaving to the exhilaration of finding a lost cow one wintry morning, this collection offers more of the gentle surprises of the funhouse than the jolts of a roller-coaster ride.John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX