Ambitious but overworked.

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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

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A pleasantly quiet exploration of friends, fitting in, and finding one’s own way.

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Sometimes you can feel lonely without being alone.

When a talent show is announced to Olive’s fifth-grade class, everyone is excited. Olive has lots of friends and moves seamlessly among different peer groups that include karate-loving boys, a cheer-obsessed trio of girls, and a pair of friends who are aspiring magicians. No one, however, has invited Olive to join their group for the talent show, and her confidence wanes. While her friends are not actively excluding her, she suddenly feels adrift without a clique of her own. A weekend with her funky, green-haired aunt helps Olive decide that she will have her own act, without a group behind her. A bit apprehensive, she announces her decision and discovers that not only have things worked out well, but that she has gained a new measure of self-confidence. This bright and friendly graphic novel is rendered with pleasing, pastel-toned illustrations reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s art and should appeal to a similar audience. While many offerings have delved into mean-girl middle school culture or finding acceptance, Miller’s examination takes a more introspective approach with its female protagonist who ultimately determines that she can find happiness both within herself and in her different groups of friends. Main character Olive presents white, while many of her friends, both male and female, are people of color.

A pleasantly quiet exploration of friends, fitting in, and finding one’s own way. (Graphic fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-70735-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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