Junie B. still brings a smile, but sometimes it’s an uncomfortable one.


From the Junie B., First Grader series

It’s bound to be a special Thanksgiving feast when Junie B. and her classmates are celebrating.

The school is holding a Thankful Contest, and the very patient Mr. Scary thinks his class is the one to win it. He calls them, “definitely the most creative first graders I’ve ever had.” When the class puts together a list on the board, he has second thoughts. Canned cranberry jelly, exploding biscuits, "Nipsy Doodles," rainbow sprinkles and especially item number five (toilet paper) have Mr. Scary frowning his eyebrows. While the class discussion of freedom (and why none of the first graders has it) is worth the price of admission, the rest of the story bounces from one out-of-control episode to another. While Junie B. still has her own irrepressible voice and worldview, it’s hard to believe that she is still using baby talk (bestest, hottish, sweatish) after 1 1/2 years in school and even harder to believe that nemesis May would engage in rough pretend play (with a stuffed elephant, no less) in November of first grade. It would have been fun to see Junie B. debunk some of the traditional Thanksgiving rituals: the questionable friendship feast, the silly Pilgrim costumes and the use of the word “Indian” (by the teacher).

Junie B. still brings a smile, but sometimes it’s an uncomfortable one. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-87063-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...


From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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