Here’s hoping a fun basketball series develops in its later installments.

MEET ME ON THE COURT

From the Alton Heights All-Stars series

In this slim, fast-reading series opener, readers meet the ambitious co-ed Alton Heights basketball team as they challenge the privileged kids from a nearby prep school to a showdown.

Best friends Cam, Tyler, and Markus have been waiting for Center Park Elementary’s basketball season to start for what seems to be an eternity—so they are deflated by the news that the program has been cut. Mrs. Avery intervenes, creating space for the three boys to practice in the school’s dusty gym after they get their work done. The boys practice, practice, and practice some more up until they run into the Golden Roots Prep team in the park. They challenge Golden Roots Prep to a game, but there’s only one problem: A basketball team is five players, and the boys only have three. Where will they find two more competent players? There’s Jasmine and Brianna, who are pretty good…but they are girls. Can they team up to defend the honor of their home, the Alton Heights housing complex, against the rich kids with resources? The story comes from a good place, but it doesn’t devote enough warm-up time to developing whole, authentic characters. Racially coded names, a reference to Cam’s braids, and a stylized depiction of their hands done in black ink will likely have readers inferring that the Alton Heights kids are black, but class issues share space with basketball as dominant themes.

Here’s hoping a fun basketball series develops in its later installments. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5383-8212-7

Page Count: 66

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more