Lesson learned: Read for fun, not for competition.

KELSEY GREEN, READING QUEEN

From the Franklin School Friends series , Vol. 1

Can a third-grader like to read too much?

Principal Boone throws down the gauntlet: He will shave his beard if the students at Franklin School read 2,000 books in a month. Kelsey Green is excited. After all, she is the best reader in her class. Kelsey doesn’t care if the winning class wins a pizza party or if the principal shaves his beard or kisses a pig, but she does care if she beats classmate Simon Ellis, therefore securing her name on a plaque. Kelsey’s competitive nature exposes the dark side to such contests: She figures out that short books (poetry, Junie B. Jones, etc.) will move her closer to her goal, even though they are not the books she usually reads. She assumes that Simon is cheating and sets off to prove it. She begins to dread family events since they take time away from reading for the contest. But Cody, a boy in her class, is not reading. Kelsey finally discovers what is really important when she helps him learn to read. Though Kelsey is borderline unlikable for most of the contest, Mills allows for redemption when Kelsey realizes that Simon is not cheating and that Cody has a lot to offer the class. Sprinkled with titles even new readers will likely recognize, this new series shows a lot of promise.

Lesson learned: Read for fun, not for competition. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-37485-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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