Runs off the rails at the end, but even nongamers will appreciate this unofficial spinoff’s “achievement.” (Graphic/fantasy...

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MOB SCHOOL SURVIVOR

From the The Creeper Diaries series , Vol. 1

Despite, not because of, carefully pre-laid plans, Gerald Creeper survives his first month of nights at Mob Middle School in this novel based on “Minecraft.”

Following a well-laid course but cast entirely with the popular video game’s “mobs,” the porkchop-loving young Creeper’s day-to-day narrative—presented in a “hand-printed” type on ruled paper with lots of appropriately blocky line drawings—charts a rapid downward spiral. Along with acquiring, thanks to his Evil Twin, Chloe, the humiliating (if accurate: he has psoriasis) nickname “Itchy” on the first day, Gerald struggles not to explode (as Creepers do) while being bullied by skeletons and navigating rocky new friendships with decidedly uncool classmates Sam Slime and Ziggy the zombie. On the other hand, a genealogy assignment gives him grounds for taking pride in his Creeper ancestors, and he finds worthy ways to mend fences with his friends by month’s end. Less worthily, he finally explodes all over the skeleton who has been harassing him and Chloe. Not only does the bully then lay off (as if), but Gerald actually earns approving nods from his parents, because “being a pacifist doesn’t mean that you choose peace ALL the time.”

Runs off the rails at the end, but even nongamers will appreciate this unofficial spinoff’s “achievement.” (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1814-2

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

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

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