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

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 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

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. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)

In this delightfully spare narrative in verse, Coretta Scott King Award–winning Grimes examines a marriage’s end from the perspective of a child.

Set mostly in the wake of her father’s departure, only-child Gabby reveals with moving clarity in these short first-person poems the hardship she faces relocating with her mother and negotiating the further loss of a good friend while trying to adjust to a new school. Gabby has always been something of a dreamer, but when she begins study in her new class, she finds her thoughts straying even more. She admits: “Some words / sit still on the page / holding a story steady. / … / But other words have wings / that wake my daydreams. / They … / tickle my imagination, / and carry my thoughts away.” To illustrate Gabby’s inner wanderings, Grimes’ narrative breaks from the present into episodic bursts of vivid poetic reminiscence. Luckily, Gabby’s new teacher recognizes this inability to focus to be a coping mechanism and devises a daily activity designed to harness daydreaming’s creativity with a remarkably positive result for both Gabby and the entire class. Throughout this finely wrought narrative, Grimes’ free verse is tight, with perfect breaks of line and effortless shifts from reality to dream states and back.

An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-985-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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