RAMONA FOREVER

So it appears—for Ramona now looks set to weather the advent of a baby sister! Lots happens in this latest installment of the Quinby family chronicles. Pal Jason's "rich" Uncle Herbert arrives from Saudi Arabia (looking "ordinary," in a muddy van), and in the to-do Ramona realizes that Jason's sitter-grandmother doesn't like her. "Until this minute she had thought all adults were supposed to like all children." She's through with going there after school, she announces at the family dinner table, and Beezus seconds her. (Why is Beezus so ready to stay home and look after Ramona? Junior-high troubles—aggravated by pimply skin.) Dad is too calm, too tolerant, now that he's studying to be a teacher—and with the teacher surplus that Aunt Bea has spoken of, will he get a job? Beezus has also caught intimations that Mother may not be working much longer, "because she's going to have a baby"—and the baby part doesn't sit well with Ramona at all. The direst possibility doesn't materialize: the Quinbys don't move from Portland to take the single, remote teaching job offered. Instead, Dad will become a manager for the supermarket-chain where he's been working part-time. (Like it? "We can't always do what we want in life," as today's theme goes, "so we do the best we can.") But these developments, and more (the death and burial of elderly puss Picky-picky), are briefly overshadowed by Aunt Bea's and Uncle Hobart's marriage—and the real wedding he speedily arranges for the Alaska-bound couple, over female protestations that it can't be done. It's a measure of Cleary's talent and acumen that the Quinbys are as credible in the mid-1980s as they were in the mid-1950s.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1984

ISBN: 0380709600

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1984

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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