Short chapters, simple yet meticulous language, a wholesome feel and the universal story of a boy with a dream combine to...

BUTTON DOWN

Ylvisaker (The Luck of the Buttons, 2011) returns to the lovably unlucky Button family, this time with a gentle story about 11-year-old Ned and his love of football.

When local legend-in-the-making Lester Ward goes off to play football for the University of Iowa, he tosses his old football into an eager pack of boys, and surprise of surprises, it is caught by scrawny Ned Button. But when Lester’s younger brother Burton steals the ball away, Ned and his friends are ostracized and reduced to playing with a newspaper-and-twine football on the sidelines. That is, until Granddaddy Ike gets involved. He convinces the group of ragtag youth that football is more about strategy than size, teaching them plays to run against the bigger, tougher boys. And despite a failing heart, Granddaddy arranges to make one of Ned’s dreams—attending a game at the University of Iowa—come true. The precise historical setting—tiny Goodhue, Iowa, in 1929—is not central to this story, though it's carefully drawn. It could happen anyplace where bullies do nothing worse than steal footballs and a grandfather’s advice and love are enough to make a kid feel like he can take on the world.

Short chapters, simple yet meticulous language, a wholesome feel and the universal story of a boy with a dream combine to give this one widespread appeal. (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5396-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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A bit disjointed and episodic, but Tristan is a likable companion.

THE DOUGHNUT FIX

From the Doughnut Fix series , Vol. 1

Tristan’s family has always loved living in New York City, but all that is about to change.

Dad announces that they are moving to a dilapidated, purple house on a hill on the outskirts of the very small town of Petersville in upstate New York. Baby sister Zoe is frightened and confused. Jeanine, two years younger than Tristan and a math genius in gifted and talented classes, is appalled and worried about her educational prospects. Tristan is devastated, for he is a city kid through and through. Because they won’t be starting school for several months, their parents tell Jeanine and Tristan they must complete a project. Jeanine selects a complicated scientific and mathematical study that allows her to remain uninvolved with people. Tristan, who loves to cook, like his chef mom, decides to start a business making and selling the supposedly mind-blowing chocolate-cream doughnuts once famous in Petersville but now no longer made. His business plan leads to adventures, new friends, and a sense of acceptance. Tristan is a charmer; he’s earnest, loving, wistful, and practical, and he narrates his own tale without guile. But he is the only character so well defined—next to him, the supporting cast feels flat. The family is described as Jewish early on, but their Judaism is kept well to the background; the people of Petersville are white by default.

A bit disjointed and episodic, but Tristan is a likable companion. (recipes, business plan, acknowledgements) (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5541-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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