Never has so much toilet humor been so charming

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THE BOY WHO GREW DRAGONS

Tomas discovers a strange cactus at the back of his grandad’s messy garden with the most amazing fruit: tiny dragons.

When Grandad gets the urge to tidy up the weedy mess in his back garden, Tomas happily gives himself blisters helping out. He’s reluctant to chop down the fascinating cactus hidden behind the weeds, though. It “looks like a giant upturned mophead” and is covered with the strangest fruit, glowing and spiky. Tomas’ online searches tell him the strange fruit is pitaya, a dragon fruit—but unlike a real pitaya, Tomas’ explodes in the middle of the night, hatching into a tiny dragon. The dragon is lovely, a gorgeous, flying, magical creature. It is also, like many babies, a creature that mainly eats and poops. There’s flammable, exploding poo everywhere: in his dad’s porridge, on his mother’s best towel, and in Tomas’ gym bag—and even illustrated in smoldering glory. As Tomas seeks to keep his dragon hidden while seeking any others that might have hatched, the lively illustrations keep pace with the slapstick action. Blond, white Tomas and his lovely pet are not the stars of the irreverent pictures, though; that honor goes to the action: a terrifying leaping cat, a grumpy neighbor toppling into a wheelbarrow of flaming cabbages, and more.

Never has so much toilet humor been so charming . (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1011-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed.

SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS

On a birthday trip to New York City, a girl learns about her roots, Harlem, and how to stay true to herself.

Eleven-year-old sneakerhead Amara is struggling to feel seen and heard. A new baby sister is on the way, her mom still wants to put her in dresses, and that birthday trip from the Portland, Oregon, suburbs to New York City that she so desperately wants feels out of reach. When Amara gets a family-history assignment, she is finally able to convince her mom to say yes to the trip, since it will allow Amara to meet her dad’s side of the family in person. In addition to the school project, her mom gives Amara a secret mission: get her dad and grandpa to spend time alone together to repair old wounds. Harlem proves unlike any place Amara has ever been, and as she explores where her father grew up she experiences black history on every street. Watson is a master at character development, with New York City and especially Harlem playing central roles. Through her all-black cast she seamlessly explores issues of identity, self, and family acceptance. Although the ending feels rushed, with no resolution between Amara and her mom, Amara’s concluding poem is powerful.

A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-108-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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