WHY DID THE UNDERWEAR CROSS THE ROAD?

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE

When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

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. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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