From the hilarious to the hair-raising, this beginning chapter book chronicles the capers of two curious siblings. Evan and Julia, greet each adventure—or calamity, depending upon your perspective—with enthusiasm. Their stories encompass the quirky, everyday events that inevitably occur with children, as well as a few extraordinary ones. Whatever the situation, this unflappable duo can handle it: from the myriad of ingenious uses the two think up for their new umbrellas in “Cloudy with a Chance of Rain” to identifying robbery suspects in “Pet Store Holdup.” The pragmatic tone of the narrative is in direct contrast to the outlandish events, greatly contributing to the overall humor; when Evan is hurtling towards a pond on his sister’s bike, “ ‘Stop, bicycle!’ he tells it in that second before its wheel hits the rim. But the bicycle doesn’t. As far as those watching can tell, it doesn’t even slow down. Up and over the rim it goes, with Evan still on it.” Carpenter’s (A Picnic in October, 1999, etc.) simple black-and-white sketches are sprinkled throughout the text, offering engaging vignettes for readers’ perusal. The nine brief chapters function independently of each other, easily lending themselves to individual read-aloud sessions for less experienced readers. With a keen understanding of children permeating the pages and an abundance of humor and adventure, young audiences will find this one irresistible. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-16947-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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Envious of classmate and spelling-bee champ Jessica’s picture in the local paper, the irrepressible third grader introduced in Judy Moody (2000) tries for her own 15 minutes of fame. As she quickly discovers, it can be elusive. Like its predecessor, a disarming plot and likable characters are matched to an equally appealing format: small pages, generously spaced and sized type, die-cut windows in the dust jacket, and frequent ink-and-wash illustrations featuring smiles and high spots inside. In the end, Judy Moody earns her write-up inadvertently, after spiriting away a bagful of battered dolls from a hospital’s playroom, refurbishing them from her large private collection of loose doll parts—plus hospital gowns made from an old sheet and little casts of “oogey wet newspaper”—then returning them anonymously. “Phantom Doll Doctor Strikes County Hospital,” reads the headline. Only she, her affectionate nuclear family, and her likely-to-burgeon fan base know the truth. New chapter-book readers will enjoy watching Judy’s moods, and the ensuing complications, unfold. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0849-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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