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Not up to par with López’s (Nothing up My Sleeve, 2016, etc.) previous titles.

From the day she was born, 10-year-old Texan Luna Ramos has never been without a hat—or without cousins.

The hats cover a white swath of hair, poliosis, which her family believes was caused by a lunar eclipse. But after Luna locks her prima—and nemesis—Claudia in the restroom during another cousin’s quinceañera celebration, Luna’s mom prohibits the use of any hats for a month. This compassionless maternal edict doesn’t result in the dread readers might expect from self-conscious Luna; instead she appears more inconvenienced than traumatized. “I hate being singled out. Do I have to deal with this for a whole month?” The roots of bossy Luna and tattletale Claudia’s mutual hostility are, disappointingly, never satisfactorily divulged. Complicating their toxic relationship is the fact that Claudia has just been transferred to Luna’s school and the plethora of primas weaving in and out of the narrative. They continuously contribute misinformation via what Luna calls the “Chisme Channel.” Gossip is the coin of the land, and the feud doesn’t lack for cash. Readers may have a hard time warming up to Luna. Her first-person, not-particularly-reliable narrative may have readers wishing they could spend some time out of her head—perhaps in Claudia’s and in Luna’s levelheaded Filipina-American best friend Mabel’s, as well. The Mexican Spanish phrases and slang sprinkled throughout do add some pop.

Not up to par with López’s (Nothing up My Sleeve, 2016, etc.) previous titles. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23273-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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