This series kickoff is a warmly satisfying and very useful exploration of coping strategies—and friendship.

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PROJECT BEST FRIEND

From the Penelope Perfect series , Vol. 1

Penelope wants things just-so in her life: crayons all the same height in the mug, books organized neatly, and teddy bears in a tidy row. If only getting along with her classmates were so manageable.

With a new girl joining her class, Penelope decides it’s time to make herself a best friend. Unfortunately, the white grade schooler doesn’t anticipate that Bob, as Brittany calls herself, won’t be anything like what she imagined her best friend would be. Surprised when all the other girls in her class rush to fawn over Bob, Penelope’s so frustrated that she has a gigantic, humiliating meltdown. It’s only after Oscar, a kindly and perceptive classmate that she’s previously discounted, gently eases her back into her dreadful day, and she later overhears Bob defending her outburst, that Penelope follows Grandpa George’s advice for coping—to just “go with the flow.” When that works well on an unplanned visit to Bob’s new house, she also discovers that the pair has much in common, promising a bright future. With brief text and black-and-white illustrations with informative captions (that depict a largely white cast), Perry sketches believable characters in familiar situations. One of the refreshing parts about this tale is that classmates pull back from bullying behavior, policing themselves when the situation seems ready to get out of hand.

This series kickoff is a warmly satisfying and very useful exploration of coping strategies—and friendship. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6602-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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