From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8. These short stories affirm the ability of their main characters to choose their fate. In the title story, Willie bravely searches for the cure for unhappiness. It, and the other stories, show readers the resilience and power of kids using their eyes and minds over accepting conventional adult wisdom. In "Pets," Eve comes up with a solution to the ghost cats who want her to join them, even though she is desperately ill. In "Teacher Tamer," Gregory sneaks into the house of his teacher to seek revenge for her persecution of him; instead, he comes to understand her. Whether facing a domineering mother, divorced parents, or a reputation as a bad guy, the protagonists take positive steps forward. It is this constant of taking action, of choosing the halo over the pitchfork, that make these stories inspiring. Some characters are crass and brash; others are introspective and quiet. Danger lurks in guns, ghosts, strangers, and unjust adults. It's a rare treat to be so surprised so consistently in a collection of stories that still adheres to its theme. Unpredictable and fun, these selections stand out for their inventiveness in dealing with difficult issues in a positive way without sacrificing the honest voices of real kids.?Carol A. Edwards, Minneapolis Public Library
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Avi (Finding Providence, p. 56, etc.) has experimented with virtually every literary form; here the versatile veteran returns to short fiction with seven thoughtful tales. In the title story a sixth grader's melancholy in the wake of his father's departure breaks when a street person offers a cure for unhappiness; the light tone of the following tale, ``The Goodness of Matt Kaizer,'' in which a daredevil minister's son learns, to his regret, that he's fundamentally a decent sort, gives way to the eeriness of ``Talk To Me,'' about a telephone that takes to ringing at exactly 4:00--but no one is on the line. In other episodes, Eve's dead ``Pets'' return to rescue her from two demanding ghost cats, a seventh grader finds out ``What's Inside'' when he narrowly thwarts an older cousin's suicide, and Gregory realizes that a compliment makes a better ``Teacher Tamer'' than a stink bomb. Mitchell contributes small black-and- white chapter openers, mostly portraits, to each story. Appealingly varied in tone and narrative voice, rich in character insights, and replete with imaginatively presented ideas, these tales offer something to please almost everyone. (Short stories. 9-14) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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