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

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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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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