THE HERO OF THIRD GRADE

Another transferring-to-a-new-school story for young readers. Randall has moved near the end of the school year. Worries that haunt all third graders also follow him around. How will he fit in? Will he make friends with those who’ve had the whole year to bond? The narrative reveals that Randall’s parents have recently divorced, but he seems much more concerned about school. Only one phone call to Dad lets readers know that Randall even gives that usually traumatic situation a second thought. He’s too wrapped up in his role as a secret hero. Randall has just watched a movie called The Scarlet Pimpernel and decides that he will be like the hero of the movie and leave little secret notes of encouragement for his classmates. A classmate drops his homework and Russell secretly retrieves it and leaves a note, stamped with an ink rose that he happens to keep in his desk. A girl cries because she does not get her choice for a class project and Russell drops a note on her desk. One might forgive the saccharine situations if the characters read like children about to enter the fourth grade, but they don’t. A puffin Beanie Baby? Wailing tears when someone chooses the same tree to study? Secret notes with a rose, stamped by a boy? Nosy third graders would figure that out in a few seconds, if they cared. They would notice the presence of a red ink pad very quickly, especially in the desk of a new student. Setting the scene in a younger class—say, the end of first grade—would have made a lot more sense. Young readers looking for the next chapter book will find this just marginally acceptable. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1745-X

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2002

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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