Nothing turns out quite as planned in this warm and believable story of two classrooms, three sisters, and one new friendship. Amy and May, the troublesome twins from Big Trouble in Twinsville (not reviewed), are starting kindergarten. Eve, their older sister, is going to fourth grade and is hoping for some changes of her own. She is relieved that the fourth-grade classrooms will be far away from the twins and means to keep her life as separated from theirs as possible. She has big plans: she will not let people think she is a goody-goody; she will try to stop worrying so much; and she will make at least one “new, good friend.” Eve is unpleasantly surprised to discover that the long-time fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Leonard, is not in her classroom on the first day as she’d hoped. A new, young Miss Sherman is her teacher. Then she learns that the kindergarten teacher is also named Miss Sherman and she’s the twin sister of the fourth-grade Miss Sherman. The teaching sisters bring the two grades together to study the stars and signs of the zodiac and, as luck would have it, May and Eve are paired up to study Gemini, also twins. Eve does make a new friend, though he is hardly what she would have predicted on the first day. Adam (yes, that makes them Adam and Eve) is a new boy at the school and he’s everything Eve needs in a friend. Though they go through the expected rough spots all new friendships suffer, Adam and Eve become fast friends and a model of a boy-girl friendship, sadly lacking in fiction for this age group. Levy’s lively plot and winning characters are just right for each other. Match this with Johanna Hurwitz’s earlier Starting School for double the pleasure. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-028592-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002


Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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