of the Center for
|The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based list of titles available only on-line. Since we're awfully fond of bakers here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt their philosophy of generosity and throw in an extra one or two when we have them to offer--so don't expect an even dozen. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these lists. We ask only that you cite the source. See the archive for lists from previous months.|
Great Books Make Great Gifts, 1999
selected by Janice Del Negro
In keeping with our annual tradition (started with the publication of The Bulletin's Guide Book to Gift Books in 1996 and continued on our website thereafter) here is a recommended list of books that will make great presents for the toddlers, middle graders, and young adults on your seasonal shopping list. These titles from 1999 will twinkle the lights of any reader lucky enough to receive them. Happy Holidays.
--Janice M. Del Negro, editor
For Toddlers and Preschoolers, 1-4 years
- Andersen, Hans Christian. The Ugly Duckling; ad. and illus. by Jerry Pinkney. Morrow, 1999.
"Pinkney's adaptation of arguably Andersen's best-loved tale is illustrated with joyfully bucolic watercolors that give this old story new life. Double-page spreads are crowded with the lushness of the natural world as the illustrations follow the sadly hapless duckling on his quest for self-realization. . . . This is an elegantly accessible retelling, with illustrations full of lively, emotive animals and the kind of vigorous movement that young children are bound to find appealing. Make room on your shelves for this classic rendering of a classic tale." (BCCB 3/99)
- Faulkner, Keith. The Big YAWN; illus. by Jonathan Lambert. Millbrook, 1999.
"Gorillas, alligators, and tigers yawn their way through this bedtime readaloud. . . . Cut-out yawns given to each character (including a cutaway cover with a hippo's wide, yawning mouth), and the chance to pull the flap at the end that helps the animals close their eyes will keep young readers up way past bedtime." (BCCB 10/99)
- Feiffer, Jules. Bark, George; written and illus. by Jules Feiffer. HarperCollins, 1999.
"George is a young pup and his mother is trying to teach him to bark, but to no avail. Every time she says "Bark, George," George responds with a meow, or a quack, or an oink, or a moo, and George's mother is, to say the least, distraught. . . . . Feiffer's cast floats on varicolored pastel pages, set off by black outlines that anchor them to the otherwise undifferentiated space. The. . . . humor will tickle preschoolers' fancy for "Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" type tales." (BCCB 11/99)
- hooks, bell. Happy to Be Nappy; illus. by Chris Raschka. Hyperion, 1999.
hooks' happy homage to "girlpie hair . . . soft like cotton. . . . full of frizz and fuzz. . . . pulled tight, cut close/ or just let go/ so wind can carry it/ all over the place" has a free-wheeling joy that is admirably captured by illustrator Raschka. . . . this volume showcases not only hooks' playful paean but Raschka's watercolor wondergirls, who appear in an astonishing array of hairstyles, colors, and moods scampering across the pages. Splashes of color on the white pages gives the celebratory compositions the feeling of a party room splashed with confetti, occupied by a group of very energetic girl-guests-of-honor." (BCCB 1/00)
- Leslie, Amanda. Flappy Waggy Wiggly; written and illus. by Amanda Leslie. (A Peekaboo Riddle Book) Dutton, 1999.
Lift the flap to discover the answer to a simple identify-the-animal riddle: "The answers are hinted at outrageously, so even the teenies won't be stumped (the canine face, panting tongue, wagging tail, and "woof" explanation don't leave the dog much mystery), but that's the point-as the series title says, this is a "Peekaboo Riddle Book" and the emphasis here is on the peekaboo. . . . This high-spirited menagerie will be just the thing for biped zoo babies." (BCCB 7/99)
- Opie, Iona, comp. Here Comes Mother Goose; illus. by Rosemary Wells. Candlewick, 1999.
"Wells' graphic eloquence. . . . spot art and energetic full-page compositions add a zesty variety to the layout that will draw in viewers. A selection of fifty-six rhymes from both sides of the pond features the familiar ("One, Two Buckle My Shoe") and not so familiar ("I'm a Girl Guide") as well as the unusual ("My Ma's a Millionaire"). . . . The high-spirited humor is consistent throughout." Babies deserve the very best, and this is this year's very best Mother Goose. (BCCB 12/99)
- Owens, Mary Beth. Be Blest: A Celebration of Seasons; written and illus. by Mary Beth Owens. Simon, 1999.
Inspired by St. Francis' canticles to nature, Owens offers a poem. . . . for each month of the year. [The] verses rely on a quiet, meditative tone to set a mood of reverence. . . . the layout boasts an elegant simplicity and the naturescapes warmly invite close examination. For audiences that want to make "a joyful noise unto the Lord," melody and accompaniment line round out the title." (BCCB 11/99)
- Simmons, Jane. Daisy's Favorite Things and Go to Sleep, Daisy; written and illus. by Jane Simmons. Little, 1999.
"The irrepressible and undeniably adorable duckling Daisy of Come Along, Daisy! (BCCB 9/98) is back in two sturdy board books. Daisy's Favorite Things is a list of her favorite things to do (play with butterflies, swim, sleep under Mother Duck's warm wing, etc.); the second title features Daisy's mother telling her Go to Sleep, Daisy, as the duckling is distracted by night noises (from bats fluttering, owls hooting, and mice squeaking, etc.)." Daisy is an endearing little quacker, with her big orange feet and yellow beak, and toddlers are going to be quite happy with her simple adventures. (BCCB 12/99)
- Sis, Peter. Trucks Trucks Trucks; written and illus. by Peter Sis. Greenwillow, 1999.
"Matt tidies by DIGGING, PLOWING, PUSHING, SWEEPING, and so on with the trucks that [are] strewn about his room. Sís employs. . . . vigorious simple line on white background . . . relying on classic truck-yellow with a few subtle accents. . . . Imbued with the roar of machines and opportunities for sound effects, this will gun toddlers' motors." (BCCB 5/99)
- Tolstoy, Aleksei. The Gigantic Turnip; illus. by Niamh Sharkey. Barefoot Books, 1999.
Niamh Sharkey's drolly comic illustrations for this rollicking rendition of an old favorite comes complete "with a rhythmic accumulation of helpful farm animals: 'six yellow canaries, five white geese, four speckled hens, three black cats, two pot-bellied pigs, and one big brown cow,' not to mention the helpful little mouse that finally gets that gorgeous but gigantic turnip out of the ground. . . . the jolly participants in all this silliness have a lively demeanor stylistically depicted a la Lane Smith. The imaginative compositions pay little heed to natural law, as characters defy gravity, careening off turnips and down hillsides with little more than laughter as a cushion against mishap." (BCCB 7/99)
- Whybrow, Ian. Sammy and the Dinosaurs; illus. by Adrian Reynolds. Orchard, 1999.
"Sammy and his grandmother are cleaning the attic: "Sammy found an old box all covered with dust. He lifted the lid . . . DINOSAURS!" Sammy adopts the prehistoric foundlings, unbending, mending, washing and finding them a new home in a bright blue bucket. . . . The gently effective whimsy of this book is that the listener (and reader) sees through Sammy's eyes: his colorful plastic dinosaurs are alive. They peer over Sammy's shoulder when he's reading, try to sneak candy from [his sister] Meg's candy box, and sleep cuddled around Sammy like a pile of puppies. . . . Single and double-page spreads feature the thoroughly lovable dinosaurs peeping out of the thoroughly lovable Sammy's pockets, swimming in his bath, and clambering over the edge of the bucket." (BCCB 9/99)
Primary Graders, 5-8 years
- Bliss, Corinne Demas. The Littlest Matryoshka; illus. by Kathryn Brown. Hyperion, 1999.
A set of Russian nesting dolls "travel by ship to a toy shop in America where, unpacked and un-nested, the 'six sisters' are lined up in a row from biggest to smallest: Anna, Olga, Varka, Vanda, Nadia, and Nina. Nina, the smallest, is mistakenly swept from the shelf and out of the store. . . . after a series of adventures-a swim in a stream, an encounter with a heron, a quick journey with a squirrel-Nina rejoins her sisters. . . . Brown's watercolors have the sensibility of old-fashioned illustrations (adult readers may be reminded of The Poky Little Puppy), with uncluttered compositions, expressive characters, and a soothing palette. Classic elements (the animism of toys, the lost doll, adventure and rescue) winningly presented are going to make this book an unpretentious favorite." (BCCB 1/00)
- Cowley, Joy. Red-Eyed Tree Frog; photos by Nic Bishop. Scholastic, 1999.
"'When evening comes to the rainforest, the red-eyed tree frog wakes up hungry and begins its search for sustenance.' Cowley's spare but attractively declarative text is set in a sans serif font against grass green panels which feature gloriously sharp color photographs of said tree frog and other rainforest creatures it encounters in the search for food. . . . The combination of high photographic action and lively text makes this a ribbeting adventure for beginning readers." (BCCB 3/99)
- Dunbar, Paul Laurence. Jump Back, Honey: The Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar; comp. by Ashley Bryan and Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Ashley Bryan, Carole Byard, Jan Spivery Gilchrist, et al. Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 1999.
"Each of these fourteen poems is accompanied by a striking illustration by one of five distinguished African-American illustrators (each of whom also contributes a brief personal comment on their relationship to Dunbar's poetry in an "About the Artists" section). . . . the individuality and mastery each artist brings to the task of interpreting the culturally significant texts in this child-friendly sampler offer a rich experience to readers, listeners, and gazers. (BCCB 1/00)
- Jenkins, Martin. The Emperor's Egg; illus. by Jane Chapman. Candlewick, 1999.
"[T]his thoroughly enjoyable look at the fatherly duties of the male Emperor Penguin. . . . will elicit giggles from the intended audience even as it opens the door to the ingestion of some painless natural science. . . . Chapman's acrylics reflect the gleeful tone of the text without anthropomorphising the subject, relying on the odd perspective and occasional close-up of the penguins' naturally comic visage to do the trick." The primary text is supplemented by text in italics that gives additional details about the penguin life cycle and a short index is included. (BCCB 1/00)
- Kvasnosky, Laura McGee. Zelda and Ivy and the Boy Next Door; written and llus. by Laura McGee Kvasnosky. Candlewick, 1999.
"In this three-chapter installment in the sisterly saga, the addition of a third party (new boy next door, Eugene) has some serious impact. . . . The author definitely has a flair for capturing the group dynamic of these youngsters--the dialogue is pithy and funny, and Kvasnosky's sense of timing and sense of humor carries over faultlessly from the first Zelda and Ivy (BCCB 4/98). There is a plucky charm in the visual depiction of the sisters and their world. . . . The illustrations depict a verdant outdoor paradise of sandbox, lemonade stand, treehouse, and garden." (BCCB 6/99)
- Lester, Julius. What a Truly Cool World; illus. by Joe Cepeda. Scholastic, 1999.
Lester's story of creation features a God who, when he finished making the world, "felt as bright and sunny as love. He had never made a world before, and, if he said so himself (and he did), he thought he had done a very good job.". . . .[Cepeda's] tropical-punch palette is both soothing and exhilarating as the heavenly denizens float around a paradise that looks like a small town celebrating a national holiday. The text bounces along with exuberant glee and practically shouts itself off the pages." (BCCB 2/99)
- Mora, Pat. The Rainbow Tulip; illus. by Elizabeth Sayles. Viking, 1999.
Unlike her reserved mother, Estelita is an adventurous spirit who wants to have dresses in "all the colors" in her closet. When it is time for the May parade at school Estelita requests a multi-colored tulip costume, but her joy in her costume is short-lived; when she arrives at school she realizes all her classmates' are clad in monochromatic petals and she feels "quiet as a snail inside." Under her mother's proud eyes Estelita seizes the opportunity to do her best and learns something about the joy and sorrow of being different. Sayles' soft-edged paintings are pastel-like in texture, and their rose-and-pumpkin hues reflect the warm family relationships Mora renders so lovingly. Spanish words and sentences are blended into the text. (BCCB 12/99)
- Steig, Jeanne, ad. A Handful of Beans; illus. by William Steig. di Capua/HarperCollins, 1998.
"Six familiar fairy tales ("Rumpelstiltskin," "Beauty and the Beast," "Hansel and Gretel," "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Frog Prince," and "Jack and the Beanstalk") are retold [by] Jeanne Steig, [who] has a knack for slipping humor into simple language. . . . and for providing silly rhymes as welcome refrains and pithy conclusions. The tales themselves hold no surprises and are quite comfortable--any dark corners left in the retellings are chased away by the cheery watercolors of William Steig, whose Beast looks like nothing so much as an overgrown mutt. . . . . This is literally a sturdy little collection with tales in commendably abbreviated lengths that both parents and children will welcome." (BCCB 2/99)
Middle Graders, 9-12 years
- Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; illus. by Helen Oxenbury Candlewick, 1999.
"Oxenbury's art appears in a warm family storybook, a thick volume with creamy pages. Her Alice is not only modern (bopping through Wonderland in a blue tank dress and white tennies) but also indisputably a little kid: she sprawls, vaguely bored, next to her sister and glares petulantly, arms akimbo, at the Red Queen; you've seen her cutting through your backyard or bouncing down the street on training wheels." (BCCB 12/99)
- Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte, 1999.
"The story of Bud's search [for his father] is set against the background of the Great Depression, and Curtis evokes an atmosphere of need and despair held together by strands of hope and generosity. . . . Bud, too late to get a place in line for breakfast at the mission, is temporarily adopted by a family already in line; a confrontation in a freight yard between residents of a Flint Hooverville and Pinkerton detectives gives a sense of the determination of men desperate to feed their families. . . . The resourceful Bud is a hero readers will take immediately to heart. (BCCB 11/99)
- Dingus, Lowell. The Tiniest Giants: Discovering Dinosaur Eggs; written and illus. with photographs by Lowell Dingus and Luis Chiappe. Doubleday, 1999.
"This description of the expedition that led to the 1997 discovery of tens of thousands of dinosaur eggs in Patagonia is a timely addition to dinosauriana. . . . Illustrations include photographs, maps, line drawings, and visual information in a variety of other forms in a layout that is clear and engaging. . . . the photos of real scientists at work-male and female, Argentinian and American-make this story come alive. . . . By the end, the reader will have a much more complex understanding of the thrill a paleontologist feels when "suddenly something on the ground catches your eye." (BCCB 7/99)
- Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House. Hyperion, 1999.
"Seven-year old Omakayas (which means "Little Frog") and her family follow the ways of their people, the Anishinabe, on the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker in Lake Superior. On the surface, the story of Omakayas is the story of any girl growing up: she envies her beautiful older sister, adores her father, is exasperated by her five-year-old brother, tries to get out of hated chores, and wonders about her future. The deeper story of the Anishinabe and their struggles to maintain their way of life is the richly textured infrastructure of this deceptively simple, lyrically written novel." (BCCB 7/99)
- Griffith, Helen. Cougar. Greenwillow, 1999.
"Nickel is uneasy about the family's return to the home of [his stapfather] Joe's estranged parents. Mom and Pop Clendaniel prove to be . . . . hospitable . . . . and Nickel starts to settle in and put down roots. One particularly compelling but eerie connection is the appearances of Cougar, Joe's beloved black horse who died in a recent barn fire, and whose ghost has clearly focused on Nickel; another casualty of the barn fire was Joe's old bicycle, and when Nickel begins to ride the resurrected bicycle to school, it seems that the bike has become imbued with Cougar's protective and fiery spirit. Griffith keeps a tight and effective rein on this unusual fantasy. . . . The book's sinewy style will make it accessible to a wide range of readers, and its compelling concept will keep them absorbed from start to finish." (BCCB 3/99)
- Hoobler, Dorothy. Real American Girls Tell Their Own Stories; Atheneum, 1999.
"Through excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, readers discover the childhoods of American girls from a variety of class, cultural, and historical perspectives. The voices of twenty-four girls span the eighteenth through twentieth century. . . . The excerpts are humorous, distinctive, and implicitly feminist, while covering topics and feelings that will resonate with contemporary readers. . . . This book should find readers among the fans of the American Girl or Dear America series and can serve as a springboard to history and journal writing." (BCCB 12/99)
- Kimmel, Eric, ad. Sword of the Samurai: Adventure Stories from Japan. Harcourt, 1999.
"A rousing tall tale probing the comic possibilities of a severed head launches this collection of eleven tidbits from samurai lore, sure to satisfy every taste. "Tomoe Gozen," with its bloody battle scene and noble warrior protagonist, is the tale likeliest to meet most readers' initial expectations of samurai exploits (except, of course, that its samurai hero happens to be a woman). But Kimmel explores more subtle, equally vital, aspects of samurai life as well. . . . The brevity and concision of the stories make the collection accessible even to early middle grade readers; masterly pacing and pithy endings will be especially attractive to adults in search of readalouds or material for oral tellings. A background note supplies historical background or context for each tale, and source notes and a glossary/pronunciation guide are included." (BCCB 4/99)
- Kostyal, K. M. Trial by Ice: A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton. National Geographic, 1999.
"Kostyal . . . capably examines Shackleton's several voyages ranging from his early journey with Scott to his final fatal voyage on the Quest. The visuals bear out the subtitle: not only are photographs thickly clustered throughout, they're a major design element. . . . Frequent usage of sweeping landscape shots for double-page spreads, with text superimposed on the picture, helps convey the wide-skied reality of the frozen wastes; photos of artifacts. . . . provide even more concrete reminders of the reality of a hard-to-believe life. The visual approach and shorter length will entice young adventurers . . . . A map, chronology, bibliography, and index are included. (BCCB 12/99)
- Lynch, Wayne. Penguins!; illus. with photographs. Firefly, 1999.
"A readable melange of anecdote, explanation, gee-whiz facts, and "hot new research" in penguin studies. . . . The text is usefully chunked and invitingly labeled (the chapter titled "What's on the Menu?" is further sub-divided into "Chasing the Chow" and "Feeding the Kids") and aptly placed photos offer engaging visual reinforcement of textual details. An index is provided to help report-writers pinpoint information and photographs of specific penguins, each of which is also represented in a photo glossary in the back of the book, across from a Antarctic-centered map identifying penguin habitats from southern Africa and Australia to South America. This one might well be the answer to the question of what's black and white and read all over." (BCCB 12/99)
- Ryden, Hope. Wild Horses I Have Known; illus. with photographs. Clarion, 1999.
"Ryden is the primary documentarian of the contemporary mustang, and here she returns to the subject, focusing particularly on aspects of equine behavior she's observed. . . . The first-person observations make the events dramatic. . . with the author nervously talking down challenging stallions and cheerfully personifying her subjects. The real draw. . . . is the collection of elegantly displayed color photographs depicting the mustangs observed in the text; between twilit pictures of gamboling youngsters and sun-drenched views of thundering herds, the book effectively testifies to Ryden's longterm advocacy for the protection of the mustang." (BCCB 4/99)
- Wolfe, Gillian. Oxford First Book of Art. Oxford, 1999.
This introduction to fine art takes a usefully thematic approach, with each spread featuring two or three works of art and addressing topics such as figures, imagined creatures, patterns, and letters. . . . There's a piquant variety in the included works, and the [accompanying] questions genuinely provide occasions for further examination of the art (a final Art Detective Quiz provides additional seek-and-find fun); the activities are both plausible and relevant, as well as being appropriately messy." (BCCB 1/00)
- Yolen, Jane, comp. and ad. The Fairies' Ring: A Book of Fairy Stories & Poems; illus. by Stephen Mackey. Dutton, 1999.
"This elegantly appointed collection includes poems by Robert Graves, Ben Jonson, Sir Walter Scott, Fiona MacLeod, Shakespeare, and others; the tales (adapted by Yolen) include stories of fairy folk from Scotland, France, New Zealand, Greece, and Africa. . . . [T]he full-page paintings and oval cameos framed with a thin line of gold have an otherworldly air that suits the content of this anthology. . . . The palette is earthy and green, giving a sense of substance to creatures usually envisioned as gauzily pink and overly sprightly. The text pages have a dusty gold edging that adds to the careful design, resulting in a visual presentation that will greatly please lovers of things magical and fey." (BCCB 1/00)
Young Adults, 12-18 years
- Billingsley, Franny. The Folk Keeper. Atheneum, 1999.
For four years orphan Corinna Stonewall has been hiding her gender beneath the trousers and dirty face of Corin, a Folk Keeper, one of few individuals gifted with the talent to keep the fierce and ravenous Folk content and confined behind various portals from underground caverns to the upper world. . . . At great spiritual and physical cost, Corinna manages to restrain the seething Folk, even as she discovers truths about her origin that exhilarate and endanger her. . . . As she did in Well Wished (BCCB 4/97), Billingsley creates a consistently complex fantasy world that steps just beyond the familiar into wonder. . . . Breathtakingly imaginative, with an earthy magic that grounds it in passion, this is sophisticated fantasy from a powerful pen. (BCCB 10/99)
- Carter, David A. The Elements of Pop-Up; written and illus. by David A. Carter and James Diaz. Simon, 1999.
"Like magicians sharing their most arcane secrets, paper engineers Carter and Diaz reveal the mysteries behind movable books-from the simplest parallel fold pop-ups to shapes that saw, spin, flip, rock, and ride the crests and troughs of paper grooves. It [will] quickly become obvious to crafters who have dabbled with some fundamental paper cuts that they're in the big league here; of the forty two techniques covered, only a half dozen are graded as "easy." All techniques. . . are clearly and cleverly presented in working form and mounted on fold-out stock so that they can be viewed and studied from different angles. Bright colored base pages. . . . make the white sample pop-ups and devices easy to view. A brief history of the movable book and steps for preparing a pop-up for production/publication are included." (BCCB 1/00)
- Nye, Naomi Shihab, comp. What Have You Lost?; illus. with photographs. Greenwillow, 1999.
"Young adult readers . . . . are bound to connect with these 140 dynamic poems ranging so widely in tone and style. . . . The narrator in John Brandi's "Wilderness Poem" considers "the universe a fragile empire/ dissolved on the tongue.". . . . Reza Shirazi in "Learning Persian" recovers "a hibernating language/ lying in the dark corners of my mind." And there is the search, in every language, to name what has come and gone: "this is the difficulty-/ lo que se pierde what gets lost/ no es lo que se pierde en traducion sino/ is not what gets lost in translation but more/ what gets lost in language itself." This mixture of Spanish and English in Alastair Reid's "What Gets Lost/Lo Que Se Pierde" is indicative of the many cultures represented here. . . . Rich in quantity, quality, and variety, Nye's selection is based on a broadly interpreted theme of important losses expressed by poets who are for the most part not commonly anthologized. (BCCB 7/99)
- Myers, Christopher. Black Cat; written and illus. by Christopher Myers. Scholastic, 1999.
"Christopher Myers creates powerful collage art in this tribute to the urban lifestyle of a black street cat as it prowls around neon- and sunlit thoroughfares. . . . [T]he mixed-media images that comprise this walk on the wild side [are] a combination of photographic images, collage, gouache, and ink [that] follow the slinky black cat with the slanting yellow-green eyes from street to alley, subway tracks to rooftop, basketball hoop to chain-link fence. . . . The resulting illustrations are an uncanny combination of gritty reality and urban fantasy. The rhythmic, chantable verse proves that Myers has mastery over poetic as well as visual imagery: 'Black cat, black cat,/ is there a place of your own?/ we want to know,/ where's your home?// black cat answers . . . / anywhere I roam.' Cool." (BCCB 2/99)
- Pierce, Tamora. Circle of Magic Quartet: Briar's Book. Scholastic, 1999.
This fourth title in Pierce's series about four young adult mages and their education at Winding Circle Temple features Briar, pickpocket turned wizard, whose magical talent involves growing things, in gardens, fields, nature, and, in this title, Petri dishes. Briar must [help locate] the source of and cure for a plague that is decimating Summersea. A search through the sewers leads to a plague-stricken friend. . . . and a quarantine, but it becomes clear that it is too late. . . . to prevent the disease from spreading, and the quest for a cure becomes a race against time as the victims' numbers increase. Pierce has a magician's touch with this strongly plotted series. . . . The pace is fast, the suspense thrilling, and the conclusion explosively satisfying." (BCCB 3/99) Note: In order of publication, the first three series titles are Sandrys' Book, Tris's Book, and Daja's Book.
- Williams, Carol Lynch. My Angelica. Delacorte, 1999.
"Sage and George are [high school] sophomores who've known each other since second grade, and they've been friends ever since-and George has also harbored secret love for the beauteous Sage. Sage's fire burns in a different direction, however, that of writing romance fiction-and, unbeknownst to her, she's absolutely, pervasively awful at it. . . . Between the entertaining and original obstacle to true love and the pleasure of seeing nice-guy George finish first and Sage win the man of her dreams, this is a satisfying romantic confection." (BCCB 2/99)
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