Next book


From the Aven Green series , Vol. 1

A fun series opener with a feisty protagonist who’ll keep readers on their toes.

Bowling introduces the outspoken, armless narrator of her Life as a Cactus series to younger readers.

Eight-year-old Aven Green doesn’t need arms to be a good private investigator; her feet work just fine. In fact, all those extra arm cells went to her brain instead—at least, that’s her hypothesis. So when somebody starts stealing food at school, she’s on the case. But then her great-grandma’s dog, Smitty, goes missing, and then new student Sujata arrives—looking mysteriously sad. Can Aven’s “super-powered brain” solve three cases at the same time? The simple plot, peppered with humorous malapropisms and leaps of kid logic, is primarily a showcase for Aven’s precocious personality. Witty, stubborn, and self-confident (“I was shy once. It was on a Wednesday afternoon in kindergarten”), Aven takes her disability in stride; her classmates are also accepting. She and her friends share rowdy and gleefully gross activities, complete with “ninja” chops, flatulence, and “rainbow barf.” Her (adoptive) parents are warmly supportive, but her long-suffering teacher is perhaps too much so; her remarkable tolerance for Aven’s occasionally disruptive antics may raise some eyebrows. Perry’s black-and-white cartoon illustrations energetically depict Aven’s agile feet and mischievous grin. The tidy ending sets up another adventure; a list of Aven’s “sleuthing words” is appended. Most characters, including Aven, appear to be White; Sujata is Indian American.

A fun series opener with a feisty protagonist who’ll keep readers on their toes. (Mystery. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4221-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Next book


From the J.D. the Kid Barber series , Vol. 2

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D.

Breakout kid barber J.D. embraces a summer of opportunity.

Readers met J.D. Jones just as he took his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, by storm, winning himself community acclaim and a chair at the revered Hart and Sons barbershop in series opener J.D. and the Great Barber Battle(2021). What’s next for the haircut prodigy? School’s just getting out, and there’s so much life happening outside—if only one can escape home learning with the grandparents. J.D.’s sister, Vanessa, brings along multitalented mutual friend Jessyka to share an ambitious challenge: “Let’s start a YouTube channel!” Can they get millions of views and wow the whole world? They are already amazing at haircuts and hairstyles—all they need is to learn how to make a great YouTube video. The story models strategies for scripting short videos reflecting the templates of viral YouTube hair tutorials, inviting readers to not only see the journey of the characters, but maybe also practice these skills at home. This book is bound to educate all about some of the most storied and cherished traditions within the Black community. Bringing in Vanessa is a great touch to extend the series across gender, and hopefully she’ll get a chance to lead her own adventures. This book blends skill-building, entrepreneurship, and strong family values to give young Black children visions of what’s possible when they follow their passions and embrace their community.

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11155-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Next book


From the Rafi and Rosi series

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

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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Close Quickview