The lure of the big top will bring sparkle-loving girls back to see how Marlo’s life with the circus progresses

READ REVIEW

STEP INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

From the Amazing Stardust Friends series , Vol. 1

When Marlo’s mom gets a job with the circus in this chapter-book series opener, the 8-year-old’s life changes for the sparklier.

As the new chef for the Stardust Circus, Marlo’s mom is in charge of the Pie Car, located right in the middle of the circus train and next to the car where the pair will sleep. From the moment she sees them, Marlo wants to march in the parade as one of the Stardust Girls—a trio comprising clown Carly, trapeze artist Allie and animal-trainer Bella. Only two things stand in her way: ringmaster Liam’s insistence that she bring “something fabulous” to the parade and Allie’s reluctance to make the trio a quartet. Marlo tries a variety of acts to no avail, in the process navigating the circus train and introducing readers to the many components of a traveling circus. Eventually her persistence wins Allie over, and Marlo realizes that her hula-hooping skills have application in the circus as well as on the playground. While the plot is simplistic, Alexander effectively conveys the hard work and athleticism that make a circus artist as well as the multicultural nature of a circus family—Bella’s family is Chinese-American, and Allie’s originally hails from Mexico. Le Feyer’s grayscale illustrations add humor and personality.

The lure of the big top will bring sparkle-loving girls back to see how Marlo’s life with the circus progresses . (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-75753-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Perhaps this series fills a reading niche, but this underwhelming third book in the series should be its last

SHAI & EMMIE STAR IN TO THE RESCUE!

From the Shai & Emmie series

A book about rescuing in which no rescue happens.

Shai, an African-American girl, and her white “bestie-best friend,” Emmie, play in the school orchestra at Sweet Auburn School for the Performing Arts. One afternoon, Shai spots a brown-and-white critter in her family’s backyard garden and assumes it’s a stray cat. She draws a picture of it and creates posters to figure out which neighbor has lost the cat. When Shai lures the animal with food, she sees that it’s not a cat but a rabbit, but being a city kid, she doesn’t understand that it’s wild. After Shai and Emmie capture it in a pet carrier, Shai’s veterinarian mother explains that the rabbit should live wild in the city. Shai then finds a better pet solution, even though their household already has eight pets. Besides its child-star author and the portrayal of a positive cross-racial friendship, this novel has little to recommend it. The art may give readers a point of reference for some scenes, but it adds little to the story. Furthermore, though children might appreciate Shai’s made-up words and phrases (“hunormous,” “sleepifying,” “lickety-clean,” “amazetastic”), this book’s readers, who are likely new to chapter books, may find them difficult to decipher.

Perhaps this series fills a reading niche, but this underwhelming third book in the series should be its last . (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5888-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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