A mix of chortle-inducing comedic insight and cringeworthy comic tropes.

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WEIRDO

From the WeirDo series , Vol. 1

Once again the new kid at a new school, Weir (last name Do, rhymes with “go”) learns that his name is just the beginning of his problems.

With an episodic narrative style perfect for fans of David Pilkey and his ilk, author Do introduces Weir, his ridiculous and recognizable family, his propensity to say and do the wrong things, and his growing crush on Bella Allen. Dynamic type changes and Faber’s clean line drawings punctuate the spare text, making this an accessible choice for emergent and reluctant readers. Weir’s apparently multiracial family (black-haired dad was born in Vietnam, and light-haired mom’s maiden name was Weir), including a flagrantly flatulent farter—er, father and a terror of a toddler brother, should resonate with a range of readers. Of less interest and relevance to readers of this genre, perhaps, are Weir’s expressions of gendered norms. Younger readers may find Weir’s romance unlikely or even off-putting, and older readers may wonder at the casual misogyny of a boys’ muscle contest. Weir’s description of Bella as the “seventh-best-looking girl at school,” complete with an illustration of the seven girls lined up in order of prettiness, is equally unnecessary and unfunny, as is a reference to gendered clothing. All of the characters are depicted with paper-white skin.

A mix of chortle-inducing comedic insight and cringeworthy comic tropes. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-30558-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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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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