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

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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The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

WAYS TO GROW LOVE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

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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