From the Junie B., First Grader series

Junie is adjusting to the new world of first grade, where she is learning to follow rules and settle down—at least a little bit. She has a new lunchbox and she just cannot keep her hands off of it. Mr. Scary, her teacher, has exhorted her to leave it alone until lunchtime, even if she is extolling the virtues of a homemade lunch. “ ’Cause brought lunches are made special by our very own mothers!” May, the prissy, perfect girl who loves to annoy Junie is more than happy to tattle on her or to point out the virtues of the cafeteria lunch. “All school lunches have to be delicious and nutritious. It’s a rule.” Junie is left with her sandwich while the children all choose a cafeteria hoagie. Well, rules are made to be broken and no one can break them quite like Junie B. She ends up as a lunch helper, fancying herself as being in charge of the kitchen, despite her mother’s gentle admonition: “A helper is not the boss.” Though she loves her job as the napkin arranger and sink sponger, she is cut down to size when she is asked to greet the older kids. Park’s particular gift is her ability to have Junie, the narrator, add interesting vocabulary and phrases to her speech. She really seems older than the Junie in the kindergarten books, more real, and more sympathetic. Who couldn’t relate to the little girl who wants to help but somehow manages to call the lunch “Tuna Noodle Stinkle” and compounds the mistake by screeching it at the top of her lungs? Hooray for Junie and hooray for the grown-ups in her life who accept her, loud mouth and all. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-81517-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...


From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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