cover image The Season of Secret Wishes

The Season of Secret Wishes

Iva Prochazkova. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, $12.95 (213pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08735-7

This novel, set in Prague, covers a few months in the life of adventurous 12-year-old Kapka (``droplet'') Hujar. After her family moves to a new apartment, Kapka meets an assortment of eccentric neighborhood characters. When the girl becomes involved in a theater group through a stagestruck classmate, she hears all about director Jajin's tempestuous relationship with a flamboyant actress. Meanwhile, Kapka's customarily cheerful Papa takes to his bed when his sculptures are banned from a state-sponsored exhibition. With the enthusiastic help of Radek, a teenaged neighbor, Papa displays his artwork on the street and almost sells out his show, but Mrs. Rybak denounces him to the authorities. Papa goes off to Grandpapa's farm where he can create his art in peace, and leaves his giggling daughter to flirt with Radek. Although the novel contains some soaring passages, and beautifully evokes springtime Prague, the choppy, episodic narrative jars the reader, and seems to lack focus--perhaps lost in the book's translation from Czech to German to English. Ages 9-13. (Oct.)