Reviews for Callahan Cousins : Summer Begins


Booklist Reviews 2005 June #1
Gr. 4-6. Think of it as "chicklit lite" as a quartet of 12-year-old cousins spend a summer with Grandma Gee on Gull Island off the New England coast. Neeve is the sophisticated one, Phoebe is bookish, Kate is a craft maven, but the first book in the Callahan Cousins series is told from the point-of-view of athletic Hillary, whose parents are getting divorced. Grandma's huge house has been in the family for generations, and there's never a lack of money. An old feud with another island family moves Hillary to learn to sail, motivate her cousins, and eventually, of course, "do the right thing" and get past her parents' separation. Feelings are described in diminutives ("a tiny bit upset"), there are a couple of cute boys, and the local culture includes lots of shopping and ice cream. Familiar series fare; unfortunately, the small typeface might turn off some readers. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall
The four Callahan cousins spend the summer with their wealthy grandmother on a New England island. The girls are secretly determined to revive a dormant family rivalry, which involves them in learning to sail and researching family history. Although the author attempts emotional depth, the book is a superficial tale of preteens with a wish-fulfilling degree of freedom. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 April #2
In a 21st-century version of a familiar story pattern, four 12-year-old Callahan cousins spend the summer at their grandmother's rambling New England seaside cottage, messing about in boats. Hillary, Phoebe, Neeve and Kate have different backgrounds and interests, but they share the Callahan blue eyes and the Callahan traits of generosity, enthusiasm, good sportsmanship, good manners and a sense of humor. In this, the first of a projected series of four, Hillary worries that because of her parents' divorce she might have become less of a Callahan. So she spurs her cousins to plant the family flag-that they research and design-on an offshore tidal island, thereby threatening to reopen an old feud between summer people like the Callahans and year-rounders like Sloane Bicket and her family. The race to get there before the detested Sloane Bicket provides the action, enough of a story line to appeal to middle-grade readers who like their characters to be identifiable types and their stories unsurprising. The atmosphere of unquestioned privilege will be comfortable to girls familiar with other series books, and the whole a pleasant, if predictable, read. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 May #3
Launching the four-book Callahan Cousins series, this appealing paper-over-board debut novel is set on a small island, where four 12-year-old cousins are spending their first "solo summer" with their kind and spunky grandmother, Gee. The story centers on Hillary, an only child who is "still sad inside about the unraveling of her parents' marriage." Carey gives distinct personalities to each of the cousins, with whom Hillary shares her goal for the summer: she wants to revive a competition dating back to their fathers' boyhoods-between the Callahans and the Bickets (it entails planting a family flag on a nearby island and ripping down the rival family's flag when it is planted in its place). Kate believes that winning this game "once and for all" will prove that she's a true Callahan and make her father proud of her. Though feisty Neeve jumps on board immediately, bookish Phoebe and Kate, a self-described "scaredy-cat" take some persuading. The girls also enlist the help of two likable teenage boys, and Hillary devises a strategy with staying power. Carey's narrative harks back to wholesome tales of a bygone era, but the author also includes enough contemporary observations to keep the book current (e.g., Neeve tells Phoebe she dresses like a "hippie with a housekeeper")-and a "sneak peak" at Home Sweet Home, due in September, will bring readers back to read the rest. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 July
Gr 3-6-In this first book in the series, the 12-year-old Callahan cousins all converge on their beloved grandmother for a summer of excitement. The gang consists of cheerful, upbeat, Kate; worldly, eccentric Neeve; ambitious, enthusiastic Hillary; and helpful, intellectual Phoebe. The 10-week visit gives the girls a great view of lovely Gull Island, where their family has been involved in a long-standing feud with the Bicket family. Hillary decides to continue the feud that had died down over the years, which results in a scary trip in a leaking boat. In the end, she is the one who actually brings about peace between the two families. This accessible, contemporary story features fun-loving cousins and their wise, thoughtful grandmother as they learn a great deal about their family and themselves. A good choice for fans of the "American Girls" series (Pleasant Co.).-Andrea Tarr, Corona Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2005 June
Twelve-year-old Hillary Callahan's parents have just separated. Lucky for her, she will be spending the summer in the company of her beloved cousins-bookworm Phoebe, homebody Kate, and adventuress Neeve-at their grandmother Gee's rambling summer home on Gull Island, off the New England coast. Unsure of what her parents' separation will mean for her place in the clan, Hillary schemes to revive a Callahan tradition: planting the family flag on rocky Little Gull Island. No sooner do the girls agree to the plan than seemingly snobbish Sloan Bicket (whose father had been a bitter rival of the Callahan brothers years ago) announces her intention to plant the Bicket family flag. Add to the renewed rivalry an extremely rickety boat, Phoebe and Kate's reluctance to sail, and Gee's disapproval of the entire enterprise, and the tale has the makings of a summer full of wacky adventures. The cousins' adventures are indeed wacky. They fight, make up, and renew their mutual devotion as only twelve-year-old girls can, but the entire enterprise is too whitewashed and squeaky clean to be truly lovable. Each character is flawed, but in superficial, overly cute ways, and every crisis is too easily resolved. In spite of these grumpy misgivings, this series will certainly find fans among Lizzie McGuire devotees and younger siblings of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series fans, but its thin charms and flat characters left this reviewer yearning for something meatier. Tweens deserve better fluff than this.-Sophie Brookover 2Q 4P M Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.

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