Next book


From the Quirks series , Vol. 1

A cliffhanger ending isn’t the only sour note in this series opener.

Having hastily moved 26 times, the aptly named Quirks arrive in Normal, Mich., determined to blend in—a tall order as all but nearly 10-year-old Molly have magical abilities and underdeveloped senses of responsibility.

Being (seemingly) the only Quirk without magic and the most well-adjusted to boot, Molly gamely struggles to ride herd on her filthy, prank-loving little brother, Finn, who is invisible to all but her (except, as it turns out, when he’s chewing gum), and her depressed, troubled twin Penelope, whose every stray thought or mental image turns real. The rest of the clan? Molly’s father vanished five years ago; her frazzled mother, Bree, holds a job only because she can control the minds of others to cover her incompetence; a wimpy monster named Niblet lives under Molly’s bed; Grandpa Quill can reset time in small doses but not always voluntarily; and Grandma is a bird-sized fairy justly terrified of cats. Though spinning these discomfiting circumstances and abilities into light slapstick is at best a quixotic enterprise, Soderberg tries. She surrounds the Quirks with relentlessly oblivious regular folk, creates a series of consequence-free messes and disasters that disappear tidily between chapters, and hauls in heavy contrivances at the climax to make the town’s collective effort to create the world’s largest wad of chewed gum a success. Light’s frequent illustrations capture most of the grosser incidents, of which there are a goodly number.

A cliffhanger ending isn’t the only sour note in this series opener. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59990-789-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

Next book


From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

Next book


From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

Close Quickview