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A satisfactory installment in a gentle series.

Lively Harriet Wermer returns for a third congenial mystery on idyllic Marble Island.

As the end of summer nears, Harriet grapples with conflicted feelings about leaving her grandmother Nanu’s bed-and-breakfast and returning to the mainland to be with her parents and new baby brother. But when Nanu’s beloved dog suffers a medical emergency from eating something toxic—closely followed by a similar episode involving 99-year-old neighbor Mabel Marble—Harriet sets her anxieties aside to focus on finding a poisoner. Harriet, who is Jewish and reads white, has relatable flaws, including impetuosity and a tendency toward fibbing. The book’s titular theme of truth-telling gains more nuance after Harriet directs honest but hurtful verbal attacks at a priggish poet who’s staying at Nanu’s B&B; she later understands his prickliness as stemming from loneliness. Upon absolving the poet, Harriet’s next suspect for the poisoning becomes her best friend, Clarence, who is Black, a development that feels implausible even with a careful trail of red herrings. The book resolves rosily, with the friends teamed up to unravel the mystery, and catastrophe is averted before Mabel’s 100th birthday party. Harriet’s other worries soon vanish with news from her family that neatly resolves many of her concerns. Ho’s cheerful illustrations help bring the setting to life.

A satisfactory installment in a gentle series. (Mystery. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9780063092181

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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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

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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

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