While it’s nice to have a Jewish chapter-book protagonist, so far Lola is mostly Clementine-lite.

LAST-BUT-NOT-LEAST LOLA AND THE WILD CHICKEN

From the Last-But-Not-Least Lola series , Vol. 2

Lola is back in another tale of school and rocky friendship (Last-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green, 2013).

Lola Zuckerman is still in the second grade with Mrs. D., the teacher who refers to her students as brands of candy (“she luh-huvs candy”) and insists (for reasons unexplained to readers) on calling her class in alphabetical order. Amanda Anderson is always first, and Lola is always last. This drives Lola mad, especially since Amanda is her (sometimes) best friend, and Lola would like her all to herself. Lola’s parents are out of town, and her grandmother is taking care of her and her brother Jack. Grandma loves her “bubelahs,” but she’s not much of a cook, which adds to Lola’s general misery. When new kid Savannah also befriends Amanda, Lola reaches her boiling point. Jealousy is a standard theme for school stories, but Lola’s never-ending episodes become tiresome. She makes herself so unlikable that the inevitable happy ending is hard to believe. From Lola to the teacher to the visiting grandmother, each character is more caricature than real person. Hoppe’s emotionally honest, frequent black-and-white drawings hold the narrative together well, adding interest when the plot falls.

While it’s nice to have a Jewish chapter-book protagonist, so far Lola is mostly Clementine-lite. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59078-983-4

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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