BIRTHDAY BLING

SPENDING

An important lesson in both finance and in weighing wants versus needs.

All that glitters is not plastic.

When Lucy receives a gift card for her 10th birthday, she assumes it’s like the credit card that trendy classmate Avery shows off. But when Lucy attempts to buy an expensive sweatshirt, she realizes that her card has a strict spending limit. The experience upsets Lucy, though her frugal friend and neighbor Julian attempts to comfort her. Later that evening, their teenage babysitter, Oona, teaches them the differences between credit, debit, and gift cards and gives them a hands-on lesson in how interest works. The allure of a high credit limit dims as Lucy learns just how easily debt can snowball. Lucy’s material envy gives way to a thrifty alternative thanks to Julian, whose in-story Moola Man comic closes out the book. Kote’s illustrations capture the emotions and diversity of Lucy and Julian’s neighborhood well. Each chapter heading includes an illustration of a gift card next to a credit card, helping readers notice the unique details of each. The financial lessons are sound and clearly conveyed, and though this is a purposeful book, with an obvious takeaway, Lucy’s interest in sports and horror movies makes her a more well-rounded character than she might otherwise have been. Lucy appears tan in the grayscale illustrations, while Avery is lighter-skinned, Oona is dark-skinned, and Julian reads as Asian.

An important lesson in both finance and in weighing wants versus needs. (tips for saving money while shopping) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781662670527

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kane Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

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

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. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

CODY HARMON, KING OF PETS

From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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