A gentle, affectionate take on familiar middle-grade issues and the joys of reading.  (Fiction. 7-10)

READ REVIEW

YEAR OF THE BOOK

From the Anna Wang series , Vol. 1

In what promises to be a reading year, 10-year-old Anna Wang finds real-life friends as well.

Fourth grade is not turning out well for Anna. Her friend Laura is now part of a threesome that excludes her; she’s become uncomfortable about her mother’s cleaning job and her family’s different traditions; and she struggles in Chinese school. Luckily her teachers encourage their students’ independent reading, and, even better, Anna is the kind of reader who can lose herself in a story. Anna’s own story, conveyed in a first-person, present-tense voice, is one of developing empathy. Early on, her mother says, “It’s time you must think about other people.” Over the year she has significant interactions with her crossing-guard friend Ray; her mother’s elderly employer, Mr. Shepherd; and her new friend Camille, and she also achieves a growing understanding of Laura’s family problems. As a result, Anna learns to think about the people around her just as she cares about fictional characters. Good readers will enjoy the frequent references to well-known children’s literature titles and may even be prompted to seek new ones out. Halpin’s grayscale illustrations and occasional Chinese characters (introduced in a glossary at the beginning) add interest, and instructions for sewing a lunch bag are included at the end.                                                                                                                      

A gentle, affectionate take on familiar middle-grade issues and the joys of reading.  (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-68463-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Funny, silly, and fairly empathetic—and perhaps even consoling to young, impulsive people who hope to be better (someday).

THE BEST OF IGGY

The portrait of a boy as a young rascal: Iggy doesn’t really mean to be “bad,” does he?

A narrator in an amusing direct address and somewhat adult voice serves as both apologist and somewhat bemused observer of three incidents recounted in 20 very short chapters. Iggy Frangi is 9 and in fourth grade. He likes his teacher and tolerates his family—mother, father, sisters Maribel (older) and Molly (younger). Like many people his age, Iggy doesn’t realize that something is wrong with what he is doing until either he is in the middle of doing it (and is reprimanded) or until it’s too late. Ricks’ cartoon illustrations portray Iggy and his family as white-presenting and his lively friends as slim boys with dark skin of various shades. In the first story Iggy defends his own honor and dignity with a strategy involving a skateboard, ladder, and trampoline in a way that only just avoids complete disaster. In the second, Iggy’s flair for going big gets slightly out of hand when he “los[es] his mind” in an incident involving shaving cream and lipstick. The third story involves his teacher and a minor injury and is an incident Iggy regrets “even years later.” Authorial asides combine with amusing cartoons (the universal strikethrough symbol is enlivened by repetitions of “nope” forming the outer circle) to enlist readers as co-conspirators.

Funny, silly, and fairly empathetic—and perhaps even consoling to young, impulsive people who hope to be better (someday). (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1330-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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