Light on actual baseball action, but the empowerment message comes through loud and clear.

READ REVIEW

SMARTY MARTY STEPS UP HER GAME

From the Smarty Marty series , Vol. 2

A bully’s threats complicate a young baseball lover’s chance to try her hand at announcing.

Baseball may be the milieu—and the author, as part of a network announcing team for the San Francisco Giants, has plenty of specifics to impart about how the game is played and scored—but the real topic here is what girls (or women) who want to be involved in a field usually reserved for boys (or men) will have to endure or overcome. Eleven-year-old Marty is delighted to be asked at the last moment to announce her little brother Mikey’s Little League games, doing a fine job too. But then Sammy “the Smash” Simpson, slugger on a rival team, leaves her in tears (“Girls suck, and you stink as an announcer. Everyone was laughing at how bad you were. Stick to softball”) and doubting herself. Worse, the bully goes on to threaten Mikey with a beating if she doesn’t quit, and even Mikey suggests that her displays of baseball smarts are embarrassing. Marty is made of sterner stuff, though, and after pep talks from teammates and parents, she regains her self-confidence. It’s a purposive tale, only somewhat mitigated by late-inning nuance added to Sammy’s character. In Killoran’s realistic illustrations, Marty and her family look white, but her best friend and many of the players around her do not.

Light on actual baseball action, but the empowerment message comes through loud and clear. (author interview) (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944903-08-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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