Readers graduating from Junie B. to lengthier stories will find a new book-friend in Annie B.

ANNIE B., MADE FOR TV

Can “almost-always” best friends get through a rough patch to become “always-always” best friends?

Annie Brown is a writer/inventor (“wrinventor,” according to her wordsmith dad) who writes commercials for products she invents. Her “wrinventions” include Apology Armor (“the kneepads you wear on the days you have to say sorry”) and the Fishlight (a tankless, waterless, and, critically, live-fish–less aquarium that hangs on the wall, inspired by her little brother’s unfortunate curiosity about his pet fish’s squish factor.) However, as sidekick to Savannah Summerlyn, the girl who is “the best at everything,” Annie spends a lot of time in the background. Annie’s opportunity to use her “made-for-TV commercial voice” to showcase her commercial-writing talent comes when she auditions to host The Cat’s Meow, a local web show. But Savannah steals Annie’s audition and wins the spot. Can their friendship survive, or will they become never-again best friends? Annie’s first-person narration is hilariously astute. About the school mascot, the quail, she muses, “When you play another school in basketball, you don’t want to be the bird that gets eaten.” Annie’s friend Jake Ramirez’s surname implies he’s Latino, but all other characters are assumed white.

Readers graduating from Junie B. to lengthier stories will find a new book-friend in Annie B. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6385-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud.

THE NEWSPAPER CLUB

From the Newspaper Club series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Nellie’s investigative reporting leads her to solve a mystery, start a newspaper, and learn key lessons about growing up.

Nellie’s voice is frank and often funny—and always full of information about newspapers. She tells readers of the first meeting of her newspaper club and then says, “But maybe I’m burying the lede…what Dad calls it when a reporter puts the most interesting part…in the middle or toward the end.” (This and other journalism vocabulary is formally defined in a closing glossary.) She backtracks to earlier that summer, when she and her mother were newly moved into a house next to her mother’s best friend in rural Bear Creek, Maine. Nellie explains that the newspaper that employed both of her parents in “the city” had folded soon after her father left for business in Asia. When Bear Creek Park gets closed due to mysterious, petty crimes, Nellie feels compelled to investigate. She feels closest to her dad when on the park’s swings, and she is more comfortable interviewing adults than befriending peers. Getting to know a plethora of characters through Nellie’s eyes is as much fun as watching Nellie blossom. Although astute readers will have guessed the park’s vandalizers, they are rewarded by observing Nellie’s fact-checking process. A late revelation about Nellie’s father does not significantly detract from this fully realized story of a young girl adjusting admirably to new circumstances. Nellie and her mother present white; secondary characters are diverse.

Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9685-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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