Lizzy is prone to extreme emotions and flights of fancy in this richly illustrated tale. She begins the day scared at the...


It's Just So

A rhyming, read-aloud debut children’s book that tracks the mercurial adventures of a young girl during her first day at a new school.

Lizzy is prone to extreme emotions and flights of fancy in this richly illustrated tale. She begins the day scared at the thought of a brand-new school and is a bit intimidated as she boards the bus: “It’s just so…tall.” Although the school is “so big” and the books are “so wordy,” Lizzy quickly takes over the class by jumping on the desk “and surpised [sic] everyone, / acting out stories— / what crazy good fun!” From then on, Lizzy’s day becomes increasingly outrageous. Learning numbers is “just so...mathemagical,” science is “just so...fizz-astro-fantastical,” learning about animals is “just so...wombatty,” and so on. This fanciful language, combined with the whimsical illustrations, may amuse young children. However, some invented words, such as “oompa-pa chugga-doo-zippidy-la” and “oookie glub-dripping,” may be confusing. Lizzy’s madcap day also includes some low moments, as when she sits alone at lunch: “It’s just so only,” she says—a sentiment she repeats at bedtime. But she soon gets up the courage to talk to other kids, immediately making friends, and at bedtime something “fantastical” happens when animals from her day, including a bunny, turtle, and a dog, crawl into her bedroom to snuggle. As a protagonist, Lizzy is a bit of a cipher. For example, she’s intimidated by the tall bus, yet she still bravely climbs the stairs and feels “oh-so-big”; she immediately takes command during the reading lesson, but at lunchtime she’s lonely. The action sequences become frenzied; a science lesson, for example, includes split atoms along with the beakers and test tubes. Indeed, the book’s overall portrayal of school moves from intriguing to disorienting and hysterical, and the illustrations reflect this chaos. Lizzy’s distinctive appearance, meanwhile, includes a hairstyle that falls somewhere between Conan O’Brien’s and Pippi Longstocking’s.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9970851-0-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Notable Kids Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2016

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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