Readers who have graduated to chapter books may enjoy the imaginative adventures of the babysat, but caregivers may want to...

MARGE IN CHARGE AND THE STOLEN TREASURE

From the Marge in Charge series , Vol. 2

These three new chapters chronicling Marge’s babysitting antics (Marge in Charge, 2017) include a new baby, a trip to the swimming pool, and wedding mishaps.

Rainbow-haired Marge is a modern twist on Amelia Bedelia and Mary Poppins, creating genial havoc in the lives of her charges. Jemima and her little brother, “Jakeypants,” now joined by their destructive baby cousin, Zara, love the zany stories Marge tells them as she’s working. Whether it’s casting Zara as a pirate baby or convincing Jake to put on sunscreen, Jemima relates these adventures in a boppy, upbeat tone with liberal use of exclamation marks. Marge, who may (or may not) be a duchess, peppers the narrative with tales hinting at England’s colonialist past. While embedded in a seemingly all-white cast, Marge claims she “decided to sail to Africa…to explore faraway lands.” Later, a spot illustration shows her dressed in stereotypical Bedouin garb, reminiscing about the time she “galloped across the Arabian Desert…on a royal expedition.” Early on Jake jeeringly compares baby Zara’s “fat thighs” to a sumo wrestler’s, and the stories seem actively intent on avoiding any textual or emotional depth.

Readers who have graduated to chapter books may enjoy the imaginative adventures of the babysat, but caregivers may want to point them toward stories that are more meaningful or less cloying. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266221-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY.

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA MAKES A PLAN

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 2

Reality puts only a temporary damper on big, glittery plans for a sleepover castle.

New school friend Tam, who shared bánh mi at lunch in The One and Only Sparkella (2021), is arriving in two hours, and before that Sparkella needs to make a castle “fit for two royal highnesses.” Unfortunately, even with Dad’s help, the flimsy cardboard construction collapses as soon as Sparkella climbs inside to test it. What to do? After giving the pouting princess some personal time in the garage, Dad points the way: “I think you have to take what you have and make it SPARKLE like only you can.” And, indeed, by the time brown-skinned “Tam, Queen of Kittens” is dropped off by her grandma, a pair of folding tables have been transformed with paint, wrapping paper, and colorful fabrics into the sparkliest castle ever! Laying on saturated colors and sprays of tiny stars with a lavish hand, Barnes depicts the two young “royals” in flamboyantly decorated settings—even Dad’s motorcycle is a dazzling confection awash in bows, and Dad himself, light-skinned like Sparkella, isn’t the least decorative element considering his fondness for sporting a purple boa and outrageous eyewear when occasion demands. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-75076-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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