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A touching homage to the healing of old wounds and family relationships.

Two tweens and an old apple tree uncover a family secret.

Sonnet and her younger sister, Villanelle, move with their single mother from Colorado to live with their maternal grandfather in Indiana. Anderson Granger is struggling to process his wife’s recent death and is showing worrying signs of forgetfulness. Twelve-year-old Sonnet always wondered why they rarely visited Gramps and Nana, but Mom avoided answering her questions. Meanwhile, neighbor boy Zeke Morrison feels disconnected from his environmental journalist father. Zeke’s vegan family eschews technology, which he finds frustrating. After years of home schooling, Zeke just wants to fit in at the local middle school. Both Sonnet and Zeke choose Anderson Granger as the subject of their seventh grade oral history project (much to Sonnet’s annoyance). Initially unwilling partners, they grow closer as they work together, and their interviews reveal the secret behind Sonnet’s mom’s family estrangement. The mystery in this deftly characterized novel unravels from three different points of view—those of Sonnet, Zeke, and an old apple tree that witnessed the whole story. The personified apple tree, the last one standing in the orchard, faithfully interprets the family’s story in moving poems that are interspersed throughout the novel. The tree’s relationship with the family opens Zeke’s eyes to the deep connection between humans and the natural world, helping to heal his relationship with his father. Main characters are coded white.

A touching homage to the healing of old wounds and family relationships. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780823457106

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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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

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From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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