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An inspiring and disquieting testament to the value of education, which costs some a lot more.

Shaka is determined to find a safe way to get to school for all the kids in his Xhosa community.

Shaka and his little sister, Nandi, were lucky that their father could walk them to school every day, but unfortunately, a work opportunity in a mine far away means their dad will be unavailable for the foreseeable future. The danger of going alone is illustrated by shadowy figures hiding beneath a key bridge along their path, but co-author Friedland’s note and an afterword from Julian Lennon, founder of the White Feather Foundation, emphasize serious unspoken threats faced by children, “girls in particular,” throughout the world from India to Uganda. Importantly, Shaka and Nandi’s rural South African village is depicted as brightly communal and as loving as the supportive Mama who assures the brainstorming siblings that they “will find another way.” A toy school bus they find one day offers the inspiration Shaka needs to adopt a privilege some schoolchildren may take for granted into a savvy collective effort to support the uniquely vulnerable but undeniably eager students of the village. Colorful illustrations offer detailed visuals of the planning and execution of the walking school bus, culminating in a heartwarming full-page spread of the brown-skinned, uniform-wearing kids traveling safely and bravely as a cohesive unit toward their school. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An inspiring and disquieting testament to the value of education, which costs some a lot more. (note from Mandela) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9781771644693

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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From the I Can Read! series

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind.

The cool beans again step up to do a timorous fellow legume a fava…this time at the pool.

Will a rash decision to tackle the multistory super-slide lead to another embarrassing watery fail for our shy protagonist? Nope, for up the stairs right behind comes a trio of cool beans, each a different type and color, all clad in nothing but dark shades. They make an offer: “It’s not as scary if you go with friends!” As the knobby nerd explains once the thrilling ride down is done, “They all realized that I just needed some encouragement and support.” Just to make sure that both cool and uncool readers get the message, the narrator lets us know that “there are plenty of kind folks who have my back. They’re always there when I need them.” The beany bonhomie doesn’t end at the bottom of the slide, with all gliding down to the shallow end of the pool (“3 INCHES. NO DIVING”) for a splashy finale. This latest early reader starring characters from John and Oswald’s immensely popular Food Group series will be a hit with fans. Fun accessories, such as a bean who rocks pink cat-eye frames, add some pizzazz to the chromatically and somatotypically varied cast.

Another quirky take on the series theme that it’s cool to be kind. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780063329560

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

Totes adorbs.

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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