An animated, if uneven, group of inspiring tales.

Code 7

CRACKING THE CODE FOR AN EPIC LIFE

Several children work together and separately to make their small community a better place in this debut middle-grade novel. 

Flint Hill Elementary School may seem run-of-the-mill on the outside, but inside, its fifth-grade students are making serious strides. When Jefferson is invited to dream up and paint a mural on the side of the school, he must look within himself and cut out the “white noise” around him to create the best image. At home, Alec finds that you can only let your parents clean up your room so much, and he learns to take more personal responsibility, with some chuckleworthy results. Samantha wants to try out for Little Shop of Horrors, the school’s yearly musical, but a bully and her own fear of falling off the stage (again) stop her from doing so; however, she gracefully steps into the role in a time of need and channels her fears positively. Talmage, fresh off his search for a mystical fish for his father, learns that perseverance can be its own reward. Genevieve must protect some school projects involving eggs but ultimately learns that it’s hard for one person to do it all. Together, the various friends at Flint Hill have qualities that will help anyone, young or old, “crack the code to an epic life,” as the book puts it. Johnson is a purposeful storyteller, and each of his seven tales embodies a different, important characteristic that a successful person should have. The individual stories, though, vary in quality. Some, like the tales of Talmage’s quest against the “Monster” fish and Alec’s quickly dirtying room, effectively get their messages across. Others, like the story of Genevieve and her eggs, may take a little more explanation, especially for younger readers. But even though they’re not all home runs, any of the seven stories is sure to spawn discussion between adults and children about how can they achieve perseverance, caring, and belief in themselves.

An animated, if uneven, group of inspiring tales.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Candy Wrapper

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: yesterday

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more