LOST KITES AND OTHER TREASURES

Unusual and gratifying.

Writing down her concerns and creating art with found objects are things that help calm Franny—and lately, she has big worries.

Years ago, Franny Petroski’s mom, Mia, left her to be cared for by her maternal grandmother. But now Nana has broken her leg and can’t get around without assistance. Twelve-year-old Franny could use some help—or even emotional support—from her best friends, but Lucy Bernal’s family is moving back to London, and Ruben Yao is busy befriending school loudmouth Tate. Enter Uncle Gabe, Mia’s estranged brother, who moves in for a few weeks to help. While he’s there, he starts telling Franny about Mia and raises the subject of her mom’s mental health, an issue Franny hadn’t heard much about before. This sparks some discomfort, a disagreement with Ruben, and difficult conversations with family members. Carr sensitively explores mental illness, incarceration, and families in crisis, and she portrays her characters as flawed but caring. As Franny works through it all, she discovers that she no longer needs to list her worries. The creative process of working on a lost, damaged kite she finds—covering it with pieces of fabric that represent family and friends—helps her express and resolve her complicated feelings. It’s a rocky ride, but everyone, especially Franny, emerges stronger and with their spirits lifted. Franny and her family are white; Ruben is Filipino American.

Unusual and gratifying. (Why You Should Be an Artist) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781419767999

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

WRECKING BALL

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

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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