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Justin Zeckendorf, Margaret Zachary, and Jessica Zander are the Zs. Because they're the last three names on the fourth-grade roster, they are always chosen to be a team on class projects. The Good Deed Contest is no exception, and Justin is not looking forward to working with the two know- it-alls, Margaret and Jessica. But when he hears that first prize will be a trip to Tidal Wave Water Park, he becomes more enthusiastic. Justin is the Idea Man, and he thinks of unusual ways to get good-deed points fast, but unfortunately his ideas are generally unsuccessful: He sells photocopies of raffle tickets and nearly causes a riot when 61 people all have the same winning number; he tries to wash his neighbors' window, but doesn't close it first and soaks their living room; he helps a woman across the street, although she had been standing on the side she wanted to be on to begin with. The Zs end up losing points rather than gaining them, and before they know it they're in the hole at -30 points. Justin thinks that if he can find the car thief that's been plaguing the neighborhood his team will win, but first he and his mother work out a way for him to slowly work the Z team back toward positive numbers. Korman's (The Toilet Paper Tigers, 1993, etc.) tale is cringe-inducing in the finest comic manner, and the super pacing of this book will keep readers engaged through the final surprise scenes. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-590-47501-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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