A solid sequel with new topics, themes, and fun.

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BANANA PANTS!

From the Miranda and Maude series , Vol. 2

Miranda and Maude’s friendship is put to the test as their different interests cause some big disagreements.

Princess Miranda and not-a-princess Maude became unexpected best friends in series opener The Princess and the Absolutely Not a Princess (2018), and both are loving school and life. Unfortunately, school suddenly becomes much duller as their class is forced to take long exams. Fed up with nonstop testing, their teacher takes a stand and announces they will embark on a creative endeavor: a school play, which they call Banana Pants. As the kids bend their passions toward the play, Miranda and Maude become inspired to make positive changes of their own. Maude writes letters to protest the use of Styrofoam in the cafeteria, while Miranda works on the cause of love. When the girls can’t agree on whose is more important, conflict ensues. Once again, Wunsch writes a story with accessible themes and silliness that kids will enjoy. Balancing such serious topics as forgery and lying with the more lighthearted ones of stage fright and cooperation, she creates a strong storyline exploring conflict resolution. Von Innerebner again contributes amusing illustrations that add to the text, depicting Miranda with brown skin, straight, dark hair, and glasses and Maude with pale skin and tousled light hair. With short chapters, charming text, and pleasing drawings, this book is a delightful read.

A solid sequel with new topics, themes, and fun. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3180-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Sweetly low-key and totally accessible.

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THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER

Billy Miller’s second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way.

Billy’s year begins with his worry over the lump on his head, a souvenir of a dramatic summer fall onto concrete: Will he be up to the challenges his new teacher promises in her letter to students? Quickly overshadowing that worry, however, is a diplomatic crisis over whether he has somehow offended Ms. Silver on the first day of school. Four sections—Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother—offer different and essential focal points for Billy’s life, allowing both him and readers to explore several varieties of creative endeavor, small adventures, and, especially, both challenges and successful problem-solving. The wonderfully self-possessed Sal, his 3-year-old sister, is to Billy much as Ramona is to Beezus, but without the same level of tension. Her pillowcase full of the plush yellow whales she calls the Drop Sisters (Raindrop, Gumdrop, etc.) is a memorable prop. Henkes offers what he so often does in these longer works for children: a sense that experiences don’t have to be extraordinary to be important and dramatic. Billy’s slightly dreamy interior life isn’t filled with either angst or boisterous silliness—rather, the moments that appear in these stories are clarifying bits of the universal larger puzzle of growing up, changing and understanding the world. Small, precise black-and-white drawings punctuate and decorate the pages.

Sweetly low-key and totally accessible. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-226812-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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