NOT THE WORST FRIEND IN THE WORLD

The mystery will reel readers in, while the emotions and relationships make this a book to savor.

Louise Bennett gets a second chance to not be a terrible friend in this debut novel.

Just over three weeks ago, at the start of sixth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a Catholic school in Mayfield, Missouri, Lou said “terrible, horrible things” to Francie Fitzpatrick, her best friend since kindergarten. Now she’s trying to figure out how to get Francie to talk to her again. When new classmate Cece Clark-Duncan passes Lou a note, it sparks a friendship and a big mystery. Cece believes she’s been kidnapped by her dad, and she wants Lou—a Harriet the Spy fan who’s always writing in her notebook—to help find her mom, whom she’s sure must be looking for her. Lou is desperate to be a good friend this time and not spill secrets, but as she pieces together the truth, the right thing to do becomes less clear. Flashbacks are interspersed, highlighting Lou and Francie’s history and leading to the reveal of what tore them apart. This story takes on weighty topics from imperfect parents to faith and belief and presents them with such an empathetic yet light, matter-of-fact touch that they feel completely realistic, while still allowing for the friendships to take center stage. Lou’s first-person narration is pitch-perfect and endearing, and the small-town setting shines with authenticity. The leads are cued white.

The mystery will reel readers in, while the emotions and relationships make this a book to savor. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780823454792

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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