THE FRIEND THIEF

From the Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw series , Vol. 2

Will a fifth grader lose all her friends to a bully?

In this sophomore volume in the Robin Hood–themed Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw series, green-hoodie–clad Robin Loxley and her group of friends are enjoying fifth grade, playing basketball, and eagerly awaiting the upcoming fair. Robin has her eye on bully Nadia, with whom she has a history. She soon notices her friend LJ spending more and more time with Nadia. As her concern slowly spirals into fixation, her other friends also begin to drift away. When she realizes she is all alone, Robin angrily confronts her friends and is then faced with the impact of her outburst. Watching Robin slowly and carefully sort out her feelings and hearing her unpack her missteps could certainly be an asset to those struggling with similar issues. Loveless’ offering is told in diary format with a large, easy-to-read typeface; pages of prose are sprinkled with cheerful crayonlike illustrations by Bell. At times, however, the illustrations can interrupt the text flow, as when a basketball bounces through it, seemingly out of nowhere. Similarly, the high-concept narrative feels overstuffed with unnecessary gimmicks, like spontaneously rapping twins Allana and Dale and an overabundance of food-related figurative language. Main character Robin presents white and her friends are racially diverse but not specified; the twins have two dads.

Ambitious but overworked. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5248-5574-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience.

STELLA DÍAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY

From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 1

Speaking up is hard when you’re shy, and it can be even harder if you’ve got two languages in your head.

Third-grader Estrella “Stella” Díaz, is a shy, Mexican-American girl who draws pictures and loves fish, and she lives in Chicago with her mother and older brother, Nick. Jenny, Stella’s best friend, isn’t in her class this year, and Stella feels lonely—especially when she sees that Vietnamese-American Jenny is making new friends. When a new student, Stanley Mason, arrives in her class, Stella introduces herself in Spanish to the white former Texan without realizing it and becomes embarrassed. Surely Stanley won’t want to befriend her after that—but he seems to anyway. Stella often confuses the pronunciation between English and Spanish sounds and takes speech classes. As an immigrant with a green card—a “legal alien,” according to her teacher—Stella feels that she doesn’t fully belong to either American culture or Mexican culture, and this is nicely reflected in her not being fully comfortable in either language, an experience familiar to many immigrant and first-generation children. This early-middle-grade book features italicized Spanish words and phrases with direct translations right after. There is a small subplot about bullying from Stella’s classmate, and readers will cheer as they see how, with the help of her friends and family, Stella overcomes her shyness and gives a presentation on Jacques Cousteau. Dominguez’s friendly black-and-white drawings grace most pages.

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-858-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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