Like a Clementine of color, Ellie May is a protagonist readers can feel for even if they don’t share her preoccupations.

READ REVIEW

ELLIE MAY ON PRESIDENTS' DAY

From the Ellie May series , Vol. 1

Ellie May wants desperately to be flag leader in class this week, but can she figure out how to please her teacher?

Ellie May hasn’t been flag leader in months even though she waves her hands enthusiastically every morning to be picked. Her class is learning about U.S. presidents for Presidents’ Day, and Ellie May figures that if she can act like a president, maybe Ms. Silva will pick her. Chopping down a class plant so that she can tell the truth about it, as George Washington supposedly did, doesn’t work. (Ava, know-it-all–turned-friend, and Ms. Silva both explain that the cherry-tree story is a myth.) Taking apart the class pencil sharpener because Abraham Lincoln liked taking gadgets apart completely backfires. When she owns up to her actions though, she is surprised by the results. The classroom is ethnically diverse—Ellie May and Ava appear black (Ava has a dark skin tone while Ellie May has a light one); the teacher presents as white. While the text clarifies that presidents were just people, the uncritical glorification of historical presidents by black kids (who would have been treated poorly by them) seems a little off-key. For more of her antics, see Ellie May on April Fool’s Day. An appended note on the Pledge of Allegiance omits mention of “under God”; it’s followed by a note on Presidents’ Day.

Like a Clementine of color, Ellie May is a protagonist readers can feel for even if they don’t share her preoccupations. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-819-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message.

LOVE, SANTA

A girl named Lucy writes letters to Santa each Christmas as she comes to understand who Santa really is.

The story opens when Lucy is 5, as she prints her letter to Santa, tongue sticking out with the effort. The letter is shown in the accompanying illustration, and a facsimile letter is included in a fancy, gold envelope glued into the book. Lucy’s letters from the next two Christmases are included in similar, attached envelopes, along with two letters in red envelopes that Santa leaves in response. When Lucy is 8, she writes a note to her mom asking if she is Santa, on Christmas morning receiving a letter in one of Santa’s red envelopes but written by Lucy’s mom. This letter is long and sentimental, explaining that “parents” give the actual presents, but the spirit of Santa is real. Charming watercolor illustrations show Lucy’s development. One picture of Santa looking on in dismay as Lucy writes a doubtful letter (“Why does your handwriting look like my mom’s?”) introduces ambiguity about what’s real and what isn’t. (Lucy is also shown riding her bike without a helmet.) Lucy, her parents, and Santa are white; background figures are racially diverse. The admission of parental involvement in Santa’s gift deliveries may make it unsuitable in households with little ones who still believe in Santa’s magic.

An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-70030-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises.

THE SUPER-SPOOKY FRIGHT NIGHT!

From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 1

Shades of Bewitched, the old TV show featuring a witch married to a regular guy.

This new chapter-book series stars Pandora, a white girl with two grandmas—the good witch, Granny Crow, in a patterned minidress, whose magical powers enliven any party or school outing, and Granny Podmore, in her cardigan and plaid skirt, a kind but stereotypical grandmother who cleans and cooks. Pandora’s friends include Nellie, a black girl, and Nellie’s mom is also depicted as black in the exuberant line drawings with gray washes. The three chapterlong adventures are rather tame, meant for readers who want fun rather than fright. In “The Super-Spooky Fright Night!” (all titles have exclamation points), the two grandmothers host a Halloween party. Granny Crow creates “bat-shaped cookies that hung around the bowls, and a custard cat (that actually meowed!).” Granny Podmore makes “the neatest swans” from napkins. Granny Crow conjures up musical broomsticks when Granny Podmore wants to introduce musical chairs. The evening ends happily when Granny Podmore uses Ollie, her vacuum cleaner, to suck up little pumpkins from Granny Crow’s pumpkin pop gone wild. Only Granny Crow appears in the other stories, making teddy bears come alive to give a “teddy bears’ picnic!” and causing a nasty teacher to accidentally cast a spell that turns a school swimming lesson into utter chaos.

Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8653-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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