An excellent chapter book that’s perfect for middle-grade fans of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series and other books...

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SUPER LEXI

A grade school girl battles her fear of “staring eyeballs” in this fantastic series starter by debut author Lesko.

Lexi isn’t a fan of loud noises and hates when people stare at her, so she tells her music teacher that she’d rather skip recess than be in the school music program. When her mother informs her that she doesn’t actually have a choice (“This was breaking news,” Lexi tells readers), she tries to come up with another way to get out of the program. Her eventual plan: to catch a leprechaun. Although Lexi claims to have no imagination, she does claim to have superpowers: Sometimes, she says, her wishes come true; if she can just perfect her tornado twirls, she thinks, she’ll be able to turn invisible. Lexi has a remarkable narrative voice, and Lesko captures her anxieties and phobias beautifully; Winsor’s evocative black-and-white illustrations perfectly match Lesko’s tone. Children and parents may wonder just what sort of disorder Lexi has that sets her apart from her fellow students. For example, if she breaks the rules, she gets “the feeling of barf”; when she’s miserable and has “a feeling of ‘argh,’ ” she instinctively curls up under her desk and hides; and she seems to hear sounds louder than most other people. The book never provides a diagnosis, and readers may suspect Lexi would be hard to be friends with in real life. She’s a fascinating protagonist, however, and readers will enjoy her adventures and root for her to find a way out of the school program. Although her plans don’t always work out, her budding friendship with another student offers hope that she’ll have someone to lean on during future adventures.

An excellent chapter book that’s perfect for middle-grade fans of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series and other books featuring spirited female narrators.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0991431007

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Red Leather Books, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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