Books by Johanna Hurwitz

Released: April 11, 2017

"Singletons' interest in twins will be piqued while multiples will find much to relate to. (Fiction. 6-9)"
The identical Kelly twins return with more stories about their unique relationship. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"Accompanied by illustrations as playful as Arlene and Ilene, this chapter book is a t-winning choice for transitional readers who have graduated from Grace Lin's Ling & Ting early readers and enjoyed Hurwitz's previous titles. (Fiction. 6-9)"
In this Monty spinoff, Hurwitz once again writes about childhood milestones—but this time with twins. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2010

After collecting stories all based on birthdays from well-known children's authors for a previous anthology, Birthday Surprises (1995), this time Hurwitz has asked a group of ten writers to create stories that include the line, "I fooled you," a concept that, she reminds readers, is a common feature of most folk and fairy tales. Matthew Holm provides a funny, nearly wordless graphic tale. The final two stories, a new take on the troll guarding a bridge by Michelle Knudsen and a story with a satisfying surprise ending by Ellen Klages, are the best. Douglas Florian contributes a bouncy poem, and stories by Johanna Hurwitz and Eve B. Feldman offer gentle messages about the sometimes-questionable behavior of middle-grade students. The anthology's large font and short-story format may appeal to struggling middle-school readers as well as elementary-school kids, although the rather juvenile cover art (that nonetheless captures the "fooled you" concept) might fool them into thinking it's only appropriate for a much younger audience. (Short stories. 8- 14) Read full book review >
MIGHTY MONTY by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

In an interconnected set of short stories, first-grader Monty Morris acquires a huge collection of old magazines, takes part in a class play, makes an outdoor birthday party special, begins karate lessons and successfully performs in an exhibition. Monty's worries about his asthma underlie all he does, and the effect of these stories is gently reassuring: He hasn't had an attack in some time and these new activities don't bring one on. He even performs in a karate uniform without a pocket for his inhaler. Hurwitz also recognizes and deals with the first grader's predictable stage fright. In the background, Monty's gentle and affectionate parents reflect the tone of this warm collection, just right for able first-grade readers like Monty. Soft pencil drawings by McGrory (most not seen) will be interspersed throughout. Readers of Mostly Monty (2007) will appreciate the boy's growing self-confidence (and, in particular, his father's encouragement as he tries new things), but this title stands on its own. (Fiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
MOSTLY MONTY by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: July 1, 2007

Six-year-old Monty, sheltered by protective parents because of his asthma, arrives in first grade a good reader, but shy and lacking social experience. Encouraged by his teacher's compliments, he finds a way to have a pet, a stuffed animal and some new friends. This gentle chapter book will appeal particularly to students like Monty, who read some substance in their first-grade reading. When the (male) librarian warns Monty that nonfiction books will be too difficult, his teacher confirms his skill and the librarian says, "You're my kind of guy." Watercolor illustrations every few pages (not seen) support the story and show a diverse classroom population. Characters and school and neighborhood interactions ring true. The theme of Monty's growing self-confidence, evident in each episode, is made explicit at the end, appropriate for a very young reader more engaged in the words on a page than their meaning. Mostly, readers will want more about Monty. (Fiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2006

Hurwitz continues her early 20th-century series begun in Faraway Summer (1998), focusing on Emma's coming-of-age year when she turns 16. It is one year later as Emma records life on her Vermont farm and small community from early fall through a harsh winter into early spring. Weaving in and around certain true historical events of the area, Emma's story is one of hard work, responsibility and a budding romance—all amid family needs and parental expectations through a long drought season followed by a dangerously wet destructive spring flood. As in the previous installment, Hurwitz renders a fine look into the era and setting in her easy, smooth writing style, peppered with the dilemmas of a young woman's role within society and family, her intrigue about courtship and jealousy and the perils of Vermont blizzards. An author's note provides a nice explanation and rationale for her approach to the story's events. Azarian's black-and-white illustrations complement the overall mood. (Historical fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2003

Elisa, almost eight, is the star of the newest Riverside Kids series. With Marshie still clinging stubbornly to his pacifier and Russell struggling through the challenges of sixth grade, Elisa realizes she's no longer a little girl and Marshie, at two, is no longer a baby. Elisa is a responsible middle child. She changes her brother's diaper and soothes him to sleep, convinces him to give up his pacifier to the baby gorilla at the zoo, realizes that there's more to eating than chocolate, and flies in an airplane alone for the very first time. Elisa's wide-eyed, but sensible, outlook is honestly and lovingly portrayed. Hurwitz has a gift for making everyday family life seem remarkable. Familiar situations and characters, frequent pencil illustrations, and generous font and white space make this a perfect transitional book for new readers who will look forward to following Elisa and her warm family and friends in the future. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
DEAR EMMA by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

The epistolary format works against this sequel to Faraway Summer (2001). Twelve-year-old Russian immigrant Dossi Rabinowitz is back in New York City with her sister Ruthie after a few weeks in Vermont, courtesy of the Fresh Air Fund. Her adventures continue in a series of letters written primarily to her Vermont friend, Emma. Ruthi marries Meyer, a young pharmacist, and Ruthi and Dossi move into his apartment. Dossi dislikes her new brother-in-law at first, but comes to appreciate him more after Ruthi learns she is expecting a baby. Then tragedy strikes: fire engulfs the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, where Ruthi used to work, and kills their friend Rosa along with over a hundred young seamstresses. Unfortunately, when this could have been grippingly dramatic, the letters keep the reader at bay. Only readers of Faraway Summer will understand anything about Emma, Nell, and the other Vermonters. Dossi's voice often comes across as too adult and didactic, "As you know, diphtheria is a terrible illness that affects the breathing and is often fatal," and, though she can remember her life in Russia and speaks English as a third language (Yiddish second), never sounds other than upper-class American. The characters don't come to life until the end, when the letters to Emma begin to assume a more story-like form. Good enough, but it could have been better. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
PEEWEE AND PLUSH by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

PeeWee, the intrepid guinea pig, is back and now he has a mate. Timid Plush, the only other guinea pig that PeeWee knows in Central Park, is the object of his affection. A nameless man who figured out that PeeWee needed some companionship bought her and set her free in the park. At first, things don't look good for the young couple; while PeeWee has learned to embrace the life and breadth of the park, Plush longs for the coziness and comfort of her cage in the pet store, where food was abundant and humans held and stroked her. Eventually, her thirst and hunger force her to leave the hole that PeeWee has prepared for her. Their sweet relationship mirrors human ones: a misunderstanding causes a rift that takes time to mend, they learn to appreciate the hobbies and passions of the other, and eventually they learn the joys and challenges that come from raising a family. The joys of a burgeoning friendship and love delightfully unfold through the world of these two fluffy critters and their squirrel friend, Lexi. Whether they are listening to Puccini (Plush has learned to appreciate all things operatic during her time in the pet shop), or PeeWee is reading aloud from Thomas Hood's poetry (PeeWee learned a thing or two from his mother in the pet store too), or thinking of ways to protect their young family from approaching winter, PeeWee and Plush celebrate the many joys of life. The ample white space, sweet pencil drawings, and generous font make this a fine choice for the earliest reader. It's one of friendship, love, and working together that will warm all but the most jaded of hearts. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
RUSSELL’S SECRET by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

Hurwitz takes a standard theme—"I don't want to go to school"—and develops it in an intriguing and merry fashion: It's not so much that the boy becomes bored, but how he does. Four-year-old Russell, the subject of three earlier Hurwitz books, doesn't choose to go to preschool one morning and he throws a fit to make his point. Distracted by another crying baby, Russell's sister Elisa, his mother relents: "If you want to be a baby, you can stay home and be a baby today." Russell does a little dance of joy, but soon learns the limitations of babyhood. He switches on the tube, then his mother reminds him that babies don't watch television. He plays with his Legos, until his mother points out that they are a choking hazard for babies. The only kind of food he gets is either taken from a bottle or mashed to a pulp, and naps are everywhere. Russell opts for school before it is too late. The pleasure here, in addition to Maione's delicate and effective pen-and-wash illustrations, is how neatly Hurwitz skirts any one-upmanship on the part of Russell's mother. It is simple experience that slips the message to Russell, and it becomes his decision to go to school. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
LEXI’S TALE by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

Lexi, a precocious squirrel, and PeeWee, an abandoned guinea pig, band together to help a hungry and friendless man in this latest Park Pals Adventure. Growing up in Central Park, Lexi has learned a lot from observation and even more from his enormous family. Wisdom like "Go dig for nuts, don't dig for trouble" prevents Lexi from helping the man initially, but PeeWee's trust and compassion convince Lexi and together they help the homeless man find food and eventually reunite with his family. Humorous anecdotes about the lives of squirrels and their views on humans add to this charming tale. Pen-and-ink drawings scattered through this small book depict Lexi training for the upcoming Squirrel Circus and show PeeWee's amazing ability to read. Although occasionally didactic, no one who reads this will ever look at these furry little creatures in the same way. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
OH NO, NOAH! by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: May 1, 2001

Hurwitz's (Russell's Secret, 2001, etc.) latest warm slice of family life explores another milestone: moving to a new neighborhood. Accident-prone, eight-year-old Noah has just moved and has to make friends and figure out a way to fit in. First, he meets Mo, the nosy and energetic girl next door who helps him meet the other children in her circle. The remarkable thing about these children is that each of them has a special talent: Andy can whistle shrilly, Jessica can read while standing on her head, and Mo can juggle. The pressure is on! Noah's only claim to fame is that his family is the owner of a bizarre, stuffed deer head. It was a gift from Noah's father's boss and is tucked away in their new basement. Mo and her friends concoct an elaborate plan that involves burying the head and having a funeral. Noah reluctantly agrees, figuring it would make him part of the group. Of course, things don't always turn out the way an eight-year-old boy might plan. Hurwitz builds the suspense nicely, and, though everything does turn out well in the end, Noah learns some important lessons about peer pressure and self-reliance. Unremarkable illustrations accompany each chapter. The predictable storyline, punctuated by believable surprises and realistic dialogue, makes this a winner for readers ready for the challenges of a longer chapter book. The generous font, comfortable size, and familiar story make this a fine addition to a growing list of good choices for new readers. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
PEE-WEE’S TALE by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

A precocious guinea pig finds himself adrift in Central Park in a tale of high adventure. Readers follow Pee-Wee's progress as he moves from pet shop to the apartment of his new owner, Robbie. When Robbie's mother's abhorrence of anything rodent-like leads to Pee-Wee's abrupt arrival in the park, the naïve foundling endures several harrowing encounters with creatures of both the two-legged and four-legged variety. With the help of his new squirrel friend Lexi, Pee-Wee soon acquires some street smarts and a taste for freedom. A remarkable ability to read—he was taught by his mother from the newspaper scraps underneath their cage—enables Pee-Wee to warn Lexi and some other squirrel families that their trees are going to be cut down, engendering for him hero status among the park animals. When he discovers Robbie at the park one day, Pee-Wee decides that, perilous though it may be, he has learned to love his freedom. Told from the guinea pig's perspective, the animals in Hurwitz's tale come off sounding a whole lot more reasonable than their human counterparts. She liberally infuses the story with wry humor; the fast-talking Lexi's speech is peppered with adages that have received a squirrel twist—"A nut in the jaw is worth two in the paw"—and keeps the tale moving at a swift pace. Brewster's appealing pencil sketches appear sporadically throughout the text, complementing the tale. Winsome drawings depicting Pee-Wee's wide-eyed gaze and stout, fluffy little body are sure to melt even the hardest of hearts. A caveat: this tale of freedom gained may leave readers longing to emancipate their own caged darlings. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
ONE SMALL DOG by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Aug. 31, 2000

Hurwitz's (Make Room For Elisa, 1993) account of the failure of an untrained pound puppy to fit into a stressed household is a cautionary tale of how not to adopt a dog. Mom and Dad split at Christmas. Mom, Curtis, and preschooler Mitch take a smaller apartment; Dad gets an apartment downtown; Curtis nags for a dog; Mom caves; disasters ensue. Without carefully considering all of the implications of bringing an untrained, good-sized dog into their small apartment, the family endures everything a dog can do, including chewing up shoes. Sammy gets his head stuck in a milk can because he's found food in it (he's hungrier than they realize); he barks constantly in Dad's apartment, where he is not allowed to be; and finally, he bites Mitch and then Curtis. Little lessons along the way prepare the reader for the inevitable: Sammy must go. "Important steps should take more time, more thought." Hurwitz's light hand make the lessons go down easily, and an afterword by a professional dog trainer reinforces what kids should know about adopting and training a dog. Serviceable. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
FARAWAY SUMMER by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: April 1, 1998

In the summer of 1910, when cars begin to replace horses, and librarians still check for clean hands, New Yorker Dossi finds herself bound for a small town in Vermont, courtesy of the Fresh Air Fund, the charity for poor city children. The "city girl who doesn't know a weed from a window" is inducted into a world of milking cows and picking berries, not to mention experiencing mosquitoes and (unbelievably) dew for the first time. The familiar plot line has Dossi learning about egg yolks and burning wood, ice houses and chicken coops; she mistakes fireflies for sparks and eats raw rhubarb from the garden. Tension mounts as Dossi tries to win the affection of tight-lipped Emma, the farmer's daughter who leaves Dossi's precious library book out in the rain. Not only is the landscape unfamiliar to Dossi, but the expressions of country folk sound strange to her ear, and her host family eats ham when Dossi's religion forbids it. Postcards and letters to her sister Ruthi, as well as inscriptions from Dossi's autograph album, are interspersed between chapters, breaking up the rather formal tone. Although Dossi is 12, she sounds younger, making this book suitable for fans of the American Girls audience. Pastoral woodcuts garnish each chapter with old-fashioned country still lifes. (Fiction. 8-10) Read full book review >
EVER-CLEVER ELISA by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

There are few surprises in this outing from Hurwitz (Make Room for Elisa, 1993, etc.), who lays on the lessons with heavy hand and subdues any potential excitement with deadening passive-voice narration: ``Books were given out to the students, and the routine was explained.'' In six short chapters, Elisa attends her first day of first grade, follows her father into a voting booth, counts down to her birthday, celebrates Mother's Day in the wee hours of the morning, swallows a tooth, and enters a raffle. There's enough action to hold interest, but the point of view is occasionally adult, e.g., that Elisa's father loses his vote (by demonstrating how the voting booth works, he casts blanks) is a point that may be lost on children. The characters are a pretty bland bunch, especially given Elisa's ``ever-clever'' designation, and poor Russell—he has only grudging, walk-on status here. This story is full of good intentions, but lacks energy. (b&w illustrations) (Fiction. 5-8) Read full book review >
THE DOWN AND UP FALL by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

The fourth book in a series that includes The Up & Down Spring (1993), about three friends—Bolivia, Rory, and Derek—now in middle school. Bolivia's parents are in Turkey for six months, so she stays with her aunt and uncle in the New Jersey town where Rory and Derek live. Bolivia wants to get to know other people, but Rory is possessive and jealous. He seems to want to force her to choose, but Bolivia is just as determined to keep her old friends and make new ones as well. This book is full of enthusiastic, well-behaved, helpful, obedient, and kind children, who are ``looking forward to taking the bus'' and think ``Middle School is going to be neat.'' In other words, it's a fantasy at worst and insipid at best, lacking real people in whom readers can take an interest, or a real plot to keep the pages turning. Even an appearance by Aldo doesn't bring this one up to Hurwitz's usually charming standard. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 8+) Read full book review >
EVEN STEPHEN by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: April 1, 1996

According to his younger sister Sunny, who narrates this novel, there isn't anything at which Stephen, 17, doesn't excel: He has perfect SAT scores, girls drool at the sight of him, he's a star athlete, and has been accepted not only at Harvard but Yale, Princeton, and MIT as well. On the other hand, Sunny doesn't excel at much. When the popular coach keels over during basketball practice, Stephen administers CPR; in spite of his heroic efforts, Coach Rustin dies. Unused to failure, Stephen becomes deeply depressed; it's up to Sunny to find the way to bring him around. Hurwitz (Ozzie On His Own, 1995, etc.) makes it impossible for readers to like either Stephen or Sunny; he's not only perfect but stuffy, and she's never given a story (or even personality) of her own. After a slow start, the plot is suddenly crammed with medical emergencies, from a choking incident in a restaurant to the coach's death and Stephen's depression. His emotional crisis takes place in so few pages that it's almost pointless, but it's also the only real action in the book. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10+) Read full book review >
OZZIE ON HIS OWN by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: April 1, 1995

In this sequel to Roz and Ozzie (1992), Ozzie, eight, is spending the summer alone. With Roz away in England with her parents for two months, he is out of things to do. His hobbies and his talent for tripping innocently into trouble fail to keep him from boredom. He makes new friends, who launch a club in an old chicken coop; just when summer is looking brighter, Ozzie's father has a heart attack and is hospitalized. A delicate b&w drawing conveys the sad moment when the paramedics drive away, and is characteristic of the illustrations effectively placed throughout. Hurwitz, known for her middle-grade fiction, has written a gently affecting story with the same lighthearted touch she uses for comedy. No big tearjerker, this is a simple, poignant recounting of events by an ordinary boy. Ozzie is real; his fears and concerns are palpable. The details of everyday life glow with the warmth of good hearts and close families. (Fiction. 7+) Read full book review >
SCHOOL SPIRIT by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: April 1, 1994

Soon after his election (Class President, 1990), having learned that his school may close next June, Julio begins a campaign to save it. He sees Jennifer as a potential ally but, unfortunately, she's ``like a steamroller....he hadn't realized that Jennifer could be so bossy and unpleasant.'' As she implements a slew of ideas—T-shirts, letters, songs, articles, an assembly—he's first angry and then feels ``as if he was just a big lump of nothing.'' Still, keeping the larger goal in mind, he works with her, makes his own contributions, and eventually restores his self-esteem. Julio is resourceful, responsible, creative, and thoughtful; his fifth grade did well to elect him. In her lively drawings, Dugan wisely retains the flavor established by Hamanaka in the earlier books about him. Rewarding light fare for readers moving into chapter books, or for less proficient older readers. (Fiction. 7-11) Read full book review >
A WORD TO THE WISE by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: March 1, 1994

Following a short preface discussing their many honorable origins, a score of the best-known proverbs, illustrated in Rayevsky's usual pungently satirical style. He and Hurwitz collaborate to make some intriguing links—e.g., the ``early bird'' becomes ``a bird in the hand'' on the next spread, and there are some obvious pairings (``A watched pot...''; ``Too many cooks...'') that use the same characters to good graphic effect in rhythmic compositions. But despite the visual play and formidable energy of Rayevsky's art, he's content to depict only the literal meanings; readers are left to explore the adages' metaphorical or cautionary intent on their own. For such a handsome production, the result is oddly flat. (Folklore/Picture book. 4+) Read full book review >
LEONARD BERNSTEIN by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

An interesting, well-balanced biography of this phenomenon of the 20th-century American musical scene, emphasizing the many facets of Bernstein's achievement (pianist/conductor/composer/media personality) and his identity as a Jew, and wisely (for this audience) ignoring the details of his convoluted personal life. Lisker's b&w drawings are appropriate and well-placed, but a biography for this age group is much better served by photos. Chronology; bibliography; index not seen. (Biography. 10-14) Read full book review >
MAKE ROOM FOR ELISA by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Russell's little sister (``E'' Is for Elisa, 1991), now five, helps Russell through an embarrassing moment at his violin recital; gets eyeglasses; finds herself locked in the bathroom of the family's new apartment; learns a lesson about admitting wrongdoing; and, finally, welcomes a new baby brother. The episodic chapter format makes this latest in the series about an urban family and their neighbors an ideal readaloud for young children, who will identify with the need to imitate an older sib. For transitional readers, its protagonist may seem too young, while the action lacks excitement. A humorous, recognizable portrayal of family life, with Hoban's characteristic b&w sketches to add dimension. (Fiction. 4- 8) Read full book review >
NEW SHOES FOR SILVIA by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

"Just right. (Picture book. 3-8)"
"Far away in another America," little Silvia receives a treasured gift from Tia Rosita (who's in the US)—fine red shoes, too big for her to wear. Read full book review >
THE UP AND DOWN SPRING by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: May 1, 1993

Rory, Derek, and Bolivia (The Hot & Cold Summer, 1984, etc.) are back; now the Woodside, N.J., boys are visiting Bolivia in Ithaca, N.Y., where they must adjust to her unusual household (exotic food, no TV) and her full spring-vacation agenda, including (to Rory's disgust) attending a ballet. But his biggest concern is a plane ride with Bolivia's uncle as pilot; embarrassed to admit his fear of flying, he feigns illness. Left alone, he discovers a fire in the house; his quick thinking prevents disaster, and, bolstered by his new hero-status, he's able to admit his fear. Later, he even accepts a second chance to fly, recognizing that real bravery is ``when you're afraid of something and you do it anyway.'' Once again, Hurwitz engagingly captures both ordinary and atypical experiences of these 11-year- olds. Amusing plays on names—plus interesting peripheral characters (Bolivia's archeologist parents; six-year-old neighbor Alexander Gian Carlo Cammarota)—add fun and color. Another Hurwitz winner. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 21, 1992

In the third in a series of whimsical romps that began with The Adventures of Ali Baba Bernstein (1985), Ali Baba (nÇ David) is dealing with more mature concerns: doing the right thing when he finds $100 on a Manhattan sidewalk; learning how rumor can take on a life of its own; showing his parents he's responsible enough to have a dog. The first episode (Ali Baba mistakes a cantaloupe for a bomb) is too far-fetched even for this type of lighthearted fiction, and Ali Baba's habit of dating events by his exact age (``...on the day he was ten years, five months, and six days old...'') is now thoroughly stale; nonetheless, lively, easy-to- read fare with appealing characters. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >
ROZ AND OZZIE by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: April 23, 1992

New to the neighborhood and to fourth grade, Roz Sasser is eager to make friends—but not with Ozzie Sims, her second-grade uncle who lives next door and follows her everywhere. Dismayed at having to spend so much time with her mother's pesky half-brother, Roz gradually finds that Ozzie is kinder and more resourceful than she is herself. Invited to dinner on ``microwave night'' (when Mrs. Sasser teaches), Roz and her dad enjoy yummy vegetable soup and oatmeal cookies that Ozzie has made. And when she's ready to back out of a long-awaited chance to get her ears pierced, Roz opts for pain over humiliation only to find the ordeal wasn't so bad, with Ozzie's hand to squeeze. Recognizing Ozzie's generous spirit, Roz finally reciprocates, not only when he needs help but because she comes to like him. Hurwitz captures the idiosyncracies of her characters with a deft hand. An appealing, comfortable read. (Fiction. 7+) Read full book review >
'E' IS FOR ELISA by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: Sept. 20, 1991

These six easily read chapters about the four-year-old sister of Russell, one of Hurwitz's favorite characters, are appropriate for precocious readers and listeners as well as for Russell's third-grade contemporaries. Each chapter stands alone, though they are linked by several themes. Elisa, given to easy tears, is dubbed ``Crybaby'' by her unsympathetic brother when she blinks at a photographer's flash, but after she imitates him by jumping from the bureau and breaks her arm, he vows to reform. Meanwhile, there have been incidents with the tooth fairy; with a blizzard when Aldo, Nora, and other familiar neighborhood kids join in the fun of an unexpected holiday; and with a February bathing suit that Elisa can't resist wearing to nursery school- -plus some nice sibling interaction as Russell introduces Elisa to reading. Hurwitz has a rare understanding of four-year-old concerns, disarmingly presented to appeal to both preschoolers and the siblings who feel superior to them. Fans are sure to enjoy this latest entry in a popular series. (Fiction. 4-10)Read full book review >
SCHOOL'S OUT by Johanna Hurwitz
Released: April 24, 1991

After three books recounting his checkered third-grade career, likable Lucas Cott has a busy summer. At first, he's not pleased to learn that a French ``oh pear'' will be coming to learn English and baby-sit, even though his parents assure him that Genevieve's chief responsibility will be watching his twin brothers, age two. Lucas soon proves that he, too, needs watching; among other pranks, he climbs a painter's ladder and learns how much easier it is to go up than down. More strictly supervised as a result, he wheedles Genevieve into buying extra sweets when they go shopping, but she's a smart, sensible sort who soon ``has his number.'' By summer's end they're good friends, while Lucas has resolved to set his brothers a good example instead of being part of the problem. Hurwitz's perceptive observation of commonplace incidents transforms them into entertaining, richly insightful vignettes. Lucas continues to be an engagingly realistic blend of mischief and good intentions; other characters, especially the resourceful, good-natured Genevieve, are also deftly drawn. Totally satisfying. (Fiction. 7-11) Read full book review >