IVY AND BEAN BREAK THE FOSSIL RECORD

From the Ivy + Bean series , Vol. 3

Best friends Ivy and Bean return for a very welcome third outing. When Bean’s desperate boredom forces her to the pages of The Amazing Book of World Records, she determines to break one herself, no matter what. But after her attempt to stuff 257 straws in her mouth falls short by some 217 straws, and her loudest scream fails to shatter her sister’s glass octopus, she combines her newfound interest in one-of-a-kind stunts with Ivy’s fascination with paleontology to pursue dreams of fame in her backyard. Barrows balances the two girls’ personalities perfectly, Ivy’s quiet studiousness the steady counterpoint to Bean’s restless ebullience. The odd happy piece of information—“It took [Mary Anning] a whole year to get the whole [ichthyosaur] out. . . . Chip, chip, chip, a tiny bit at a time”—is conveyed effortlessly without impinging on the terrifically childlike voice—“Lookit! I got one.” Blackall’s black-and-white spot illustrations share equal billing with the text, punctuating the written narrative with wry, spiky visuals that capture the kids’ personalities beautifully. The resolution deflates Ivy and Bean’s ambitions but leaves both dignity and enthusiasm intact—other record attempts can wait till tomorrow. Just right. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8118-5683-6

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sweetly low-key and totally accessible.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2013

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Honor Book

THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER

Billy Miller’s second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way.

Billy’s year begins with his worry over the lump on his head, a souvenir of a dramatic summer fall onto concrete: Will he be up to the challenges his new teacher promises in her letter to students? Quickly overshadowing that worry, however, is a diplomatic crisis over whether he has somehow offended Ms. Silver on the first day of school. Four sections—Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother—offer different and essential focal points for Billy’s life, allowing both him and readers to explore several varieties of creative endeavor, small adventures, and, especially, both challenges and successful problem-solving. The wonderfully self-possessed Sal, his 3-year-old sister, is to Billy much as Ramona is to Beezus, but without the same level of tension. Her pillowcase full of the plush yellow whales she calls the Drop Sisters (Raindrop, Gumdrop, etc.) is a memorable prop. Henkes offers what he so often does in these longer works for children: a sense that experiences don’t have to be extraordinary to be important and dramatic. Billy’s slightly dreamy interior life isn’t filled with either angst or boisterous silliness—rather, the moments that appear in these stories are clarifying bits of the universal larger puzzle of growing up, changing and understanding the world. Small, precise black-and-white drawings punctuate and decorate the pages.

Sweetly low-key and totally accessible. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-226812-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fantasy training wheels for chapter-book readers.

THE CREATURE OF THE PINES

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 1

Elliot’s first day of school turns out to be more than he bargained for.

Elliot Eisner—skinny and pale with curly brown hair—is a bit nervous about being the new kid. Thankfully, he hits it off with fellow new student, “punk rock”–looking Uchenna Devereaux, a black girl with twists (though they actually look like dreads in Aly’s illustrations). On a first-day field trip to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, the pair investigates a noise in the trees. The cause? A Jersey Devil: a blue-furred, red-bellied and -winged mythical creature that looks like “a tiny dragon” with cloven hooves, like a deer’s, on its hind feet. Unwittingly, the duo bonds with the creature by feeding it, and it later follows them back to the bus. Unsurprisingly, they lose the creature (which they alternately nickname Jersey and Bonechewer), which forces them to go to their intimidating, decidedly odd teacher, Peruvian Professor Fauna, for help in recovering it. The book closes with Professor Fauna revealing the truth—he heads a secret organization committed to protecting mythical creatures—and inviting the children to join, a neat setup for what is obviously intended to be a series. The predictable plot is geared to newly independent readers who are not yet ready for the usual heft of contemporary fantasies. A brief history lesson given by a mixed-race associate of Fauna’s in which she compares herself to the American “melting pot” manages to come across as simultaneously corrective and appropriative.

Fantasy training wheels for chapter-book readers. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3170-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more