BEST FRIENDS-ISH

From the Audrey L and Audrey W series , Vol. 1

A second grader navigates the ups and downs of a new friendship.

So far, second grade isn’t living up to Audrey Locke’s high expectations. When the odd number of kids pair up, she’s the extra one. Longing to be best at something, Audrey—class Welcome Ambassador—seizes her opportunity when Ms. Fincastle announces they’ll be joined by a new student whose favorite snack is chocolate-covered crickets. Although Audrey drops the welcome cake she’s made, the new girl, Audrey Waters, is gracious about the mishap, and friendship blossoms. Besides their names, the girls share a liking for winged unicorns and purple nail polish. But as Audrey W excels at music, spelling, and more, Audrey L begins to feel jealous, especially after the class votes for Audrey W’s choice to name the classroom’s hermit crab. With Audrey W best at so much, Audrey L’s determined to prove herself best at baking. Then their baking-focused weekend play date goes awry, and Audrey L lets out all her worries and anger. Mann’s droll illustrations capture the full range of her changing emotions and convey character diversity: Ms. Fincastle and several students have darker skin than both brown-haired Audrey L (presumed White) and black-haired Audrey W (who has olive skin on the full-color cover). The sophisticated vocabulary and syntax might be a stretch for young readers. If mature, accomplished Audrey W is fairly thinly developed in this first series outing, Audrey L’s struggles to establish herself within the chaotic social hierarchies of elementary school are endearingly authentic.

Funny and engaging. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8394-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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