THE MOST MARVELOUS INTERNATIONAL SPELLING BEE

From the Spectacular Spelling Bee series , Vol. 2

The irrepressible Wimple family returns.

India Wimple, Australia’s champion speller, has returned home from her victory at the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee in Sydney. Now that the mayor has awarded her the Yungabilla Medallion and giant plastic zucchini in commemoration of her feat, she just wants to get back to her quiet life. But then a letter arrives: an invitation to the Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee! Soon, the Wimples are off to London, where a mystery arises when a saboteur strikes. India is on the case, joined once again by her sweet and kooky family and pals Rajish and Summer, Australia’s other two top spellers. New competitors-turned-friends include bullied English boy Peter and a neglected Canadian girl named Holly, both of whom are looking for acceptance. Absurd humor abounds: When the contestants and their parents meet the queen, Holly’s fitness-guru parents try to sell her their Beaut Butts and Guts exercise program; the Wimples can’t understand why no-nonsense Nanna Flo keeps giggling (she’s smitten with Peter’s grandfather); and the bee’s special guest is the only three-time world champion, a grown man resembling Liberace. Combine this with Bitskoff’s spot cartoons and lots of vocabulary that will be new to many young readers, and much merriment and edification mark this story of bravery, friendship, and logophilia. The cast is primarily white or assumed white; Indian-Australian Rajish and his family are notable exceptions.

Another round of laughs. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6819-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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