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 19, 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.


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. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.


From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

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