A sixth book in the series is expected, to the delight of Charlie’s fans.

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE PUNY PIRATES

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 5

Master storyteller Harley scores again with fourth-grader Charlie Bumpers and friends as they suffer on a losing soccer team.

Charlie, Hector, and Tommy could be the best soccer trio in history if only they could play offense at the same time. Why can’t coach Mr. Carmody see that? Harley’s fifth book in the Charlie Bumpers series sets the scene on the soccer field instead of the classroom or the school stage. Deftly straddling the gap between slapstick-level soccer beginners and serious preteen athletes, the Pirates focus on fundamentals while getting shellacked by all their opponents. Since winning a game seems elusive (although all the adults say they never keep score), the three friends pool their resources selling chocolate bars for the fundraiser. Maybe they can win that prize instead! Harley paints a world immediately familiar to most 9-year-olds and embellishes it with the high jinks that life provides. Charlie’s soccer team is terrible. Charlie’s family drives him crazy. Charlie loses the fundraising money. Nothing life-threatening, nothing alien, just honest-to-goodness growing up while learning to play for the love of the game. The surprise is that it is suspenseful, hilarious, and revealing, with no tidy solution at the end. This is a quick and easy read, comforting and diverse even if suburban; in addition to white Charlie, African-American Tommy, and Latino Hector, the Pirates are a nicely multiethnic team.

A sixth book in the series is expected, to the delight of Charlie’s fans. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-939-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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THE JUNKYARD WONDERS

Trisha is ready to start at a new school, where no one will know she has dyslexia. At first, she is heartbroken to be in Miss Peterson’s special-ed class, aka, “the junkyard.” But Miss Peterson treats the children as anything but junk, showing them that everyone has a unique talent. Polacco’s trademark style is fully present here; her sensitively drawn alter ego shines with depth of feeling. When bullying occurs, Miss Peterson proves her students are worthwhile by planning a junkyard field trip, where they find valuable objects to be used in exciting ways. Trisha’s group repairs a plane, and the class buys an engine for it. Then a beloved class member dies, and the children must find a way to honor him. While the plot meanders somewhat, the characters are appealing, believable and provide a fine portrayal of a truly special class. Children will be drawn in by the story’s warmth and gentle humor and will leave with a spark of inspiration, an appreciation of individual differences and a firm anti-bullying message, all underscored by the author’s note that concludes the book. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25078-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE

When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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