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ZEKE MEEKS VS. THE PUTRID PUPPET PALS

From the Zeke Meeks series

Zeke has a good chance at becoming a popular fad for new readers.

Readers who prefer an easier-to-read option to the Wimpy Kid series will find Zeke Meeks’ comic responses to the tribulations of life as a third grader amusingly familiar.

Silly Bands are a thing of the past for Zeke and his buddies. Fueled by relentless television commercials, a new craze has infiltrated his school: Puppet Pals. Puppet Pals are collectible finger puppets, complete with their own paraphernalia, which keep Zeke’s friends busy during class, on the playground or after school. Zeke is left to play with—shudder—the kissing girls at recess because everyone is busy with puppets. Hilarious first-person narration gets the details of third-grade life right: the illogic of fads, the power of trend setters and the lengths some kids will go to belong. This chronicle of the arc of a grade-school obsession is funny, and readers will laugh when thinking about the trends that are undoubtedly racing through their schools. Brief paragraphs, familiar, humorous situations and frequent cartoon illustrations make this especially easy to read and will lead to laugh-out-loud moments for second- and third-grade readers. Short, choppy sentences and an excess of silly will put this in the same category as Captain Underpants: painful for teachers and parents to listen to, but this book is not for them.

Zeke has a good chance at becoming a popular fad for new readers.   (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4048-6803-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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LITTLE DAYMOND LEARNS TO EARN

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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STELLA DÍAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY

From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 1

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience.

Speaking up is hard when you’re shy, and it can be even harder if you’ve got two languages in your head.

Third-grader Estrella “Stella” Díaz, is a shy, Mexican-American girl who draws pictures and loves fish, and she lives in Chicago with her mother and older brother, Nick. Jenny, Stella’s best friend, isn’t in her class this year, and Stella feels lonely—especially when she sees that Vietnamese-American Jenny is making new friends. When a new student, Stanley Mason, arrives in her class, Stella introduces herself in Spanish to the white former Texan without realizing it and becomes embarrassed. Surely Stanley won’t want to befriend her after that—but he seems to anyway. Stella often confuses the pronunciation between English and Spanish sounds and takes speech classes. As an immigrant with a green card—a “legal alien,” according to her teacher—Stella feels that she doesn’t fully belong to either American culture or Mexican culture, and this is nicely reflected in her not being fully comfortable in either language, an experience familiar to many immigrant and first-generation children. This early-middle-grade book features italicized Spanish words and phrases with direct translations right after. There is a small subplot about bullying from Stella’s classmate, and readers will cheer as they see how, with the help of her friends and family, Stella overcomes her shyness and gives a presentation on Jacques Cousteau. Dominguez’s friendly black-and-white drawings grace most pages.

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-858-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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