An endlessly endearing story of three girls’ pursuit of friendship and the beauty and challenge of what it means to be 10

LIKE MAGIC

Grace, Jada, and Malia overcome fear and loneliness with the help of a mysterious treasure box.

Being 10 isn’t easy, especially when you’re painfully shy and your best friend moves away, a new baby sister is on the way, or your mom left your family when you were little. For Grace, Malia, and Jade, respectively, these challenges cloud the summer before the start of fifth grade. But when they each discover a treasure box at the local library, their lives begin to fill with bright, new possibilities for creating art and making friends. As the girls fill the special boxes with treasures of their own, they are drawn closer to one another and to finding their places in the world, at a new school, and within their own families. Alternating chapters reveal each girl’s personal struggles and the pivotal role of art—painting, music, poetry—in her growth and healing. Their stories are told in intimate detail, illuminating all that’s beautiful and tough about being 10. Based on the cover art and details from the narrative, Grace is white, Jada is black, and Malia is brown. Their differences are woven into the fabric of this touching, engrossing story about dealing with change and working through fears. The Salt Lake City, Utah, setting is fresh, the city’s landmarks and landscape adding another layer of richness to the novel.

An endlessly endearing story of three girls’ pursuit of friendship and the beauty and challenge of what it means to be 10 . (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241431-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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