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A captivating, humorous, and heartfelt story of friendship, family, and crime-solving.

Felix has many T-shirts poking fun at his small stature: “YOU GOTTA HAND IT TO SHORT PEOPLE (BECAUSE THEY USUALLY CAN’T REACH ANYWAY).”

Sixth grader Felix has a lot going on. There’s a baby sister due in a few months, he’s taking growth hormones (for a pituitary deficiency) although he is perfectly happy being a short kid, and he knows nothing about his biological dad, though he really wants to. Felix joins the Forensic Science Club at school (their motto: “To a great mind, nothing is little.—Sherlock Holmes”) and realizes he can apply what he learns there to finding out more about his father. He also sets his sights on going to the district tournament; he and his teammates each have their reasons for wanting to succeed. Felix hopes his father will see him in the newspaper and come find him. Ray wants to persuade his accountant father that Math Club isn’t the only thing of value. Casey, who lives in the shadow of her sister’s softball successes, would love to finally win her own trophy. And Priya just wants to prove to her other friends that becoming a medical examiner isn’t a weird ambition. But what happens when winning matters too much? The author’s afterword about growth hormone deficiency is an informative, insightful addition to an empathetic and well-told story. Most characters present White.

A captivating, humorous, and heartfelt story of friendship, family, and crime-solving. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-5011-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

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. 18, 2019

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From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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