A young family favorite charms her teacher in this affecting novel from a century ago.

Nesthäkchen's First School Year


A children’s classic relates a little girl’s first experiences at school in Germany.

Lehrer’s English-language translation of the “Nesthäkchen” novels by Holocaust victim Ury continues with this rendition of 1915’s Nesthäkchens Erstes Schuljahr, the second installment in the 10-volume series. The books follow its title character, the “Nesthäkchen,” or young family’s favorite girl, from infancy to old age. Annemarie Braun is the perky, blonde, youngest daughter of a prosperous Berlin doctor, and in this episode, she’s just turned 7 years old and attends school for the first time, taken there by her nanny after saying goodbye to her wistful parents. Her older brothers Hans and Klaus have been students for years, but this is Annemarie’s first time away from home for even short periods, and Ury evocatively captures the combination of excitement and dread that can fill a child’s mind when encountering a new environment for the first time. The activities of that new place are likewise portrayed with a fine mix of clarity and nostalgia: little Annemarie learns to make friends, to listen occasionally to her teacher, and to participate in various school activities, bubblingly recounting everything to her parents when she returns home. She meets girls named Margot Thielen and Hilde Rabe; she beguiles her teacher; and she learns her letters from a colorful primer. All of this is rendered with a carefully controlled drip of romanticism designed to appeal to both children and their reminiscing parents, and Lehrer’s clear, accessible translation is smoothly, appealingly colloquial. The footnotes he provides are minimal and helpful, but this touching section of the Nesthäkchen’s life story is simple enough to require very little textual elaboration. Readers should be transported not only to an earlier era’s childhood world, but to a glowingly idealized version of that realm, and they will likely be as enchanted by Annemarie as were Ury’s original readers.

A young family favorite charms her teacher in this affecting novel from a century ago.

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-5006-8620-8

Page Count: 244

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2016

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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