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THE ELEVENTH HOUR

Children may notice that the adults reading with them are weeping—a history lesson and conversation starter in one book.

Two Canadian friends, one born just two minutes after the other, go to the Western Front.

Goldstyn’s amusing cartoons develop the two boys’ friendship, one in which Jules is “always two minutes behind Jim,” but no matter: “Jules looked up to Jim, and Jim looked out for Jules.” When war breaks out, Jules and Jim enlist, Jules, always a bit late, stuck with a uniform that doesn’t quite fit and crossing the Atlantic in an old ship that’s seen better days. “Jules and Jim had imagined war to be full of epic battles and glorious charges,” but they soon realize trench warfare is anything but. (A magnified louse makes this perfectly clear.) This extra-long picture book is related in a wry, matter-of-fact tone that lets Goldstyn’s watercolors arc shells across the gutter, back and forth, explosive violence alternating with vignettes that depict increasing hardship for everyone. In its compact, elliptical way, it’s an extremely effective narrative of World War I, always grounded in its two protagonists. Jim is decorated, while Jules, always late, peels potatoes. An armistice is signed and a cease-fire designated at 11:00 on Nov. 11—but at 10:58 Jim goes over the top and is killed, the illustrations confronting this violence clearly. Home without his friend, Jules becomes a watchmaker, and all his timepieces run two minutes slow. Jim and Jules are both white, as are their fellow soldiers and adversaries.

Children may notice that the adults reading with them are weeping—a history lesson and conversation starter in one book. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-348-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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BEATRICE ZINKER, UPSIDE DOWN THINKER

From the Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker series , Vol. 1

A kind child in a book for middle-grade readers? There’s no downside to that.

Beatrice Zinker is a kinder, gentler Judy Moody.

Beatrice doesn’t want to be fit in a box. Her first word was “WOW,” not “Mom.” She does her best thinking upside down and prefers to dress like a ninja. Like Judy Moody, she has patient parents and a somewhat annoying younger brother. (She also has a perfectly ordinary older sister.) Beatrice spends all summer planning a top-secret spy operation complete with secret codes and a secret language (pig Latin). But on the first day of third grade, her best friend, Lenny (short for Eleanor), shows up in a dress, with a new friend who wants to play veterinarian at recess. Beatrice, essentially a kind if somewhat quirky kid, struggles to see the upside of the situation and ends up with two friends instead of one. Line drawings on almost every spread add to the humor and make the book accessible to readers who might otherwise balk at its 160 pages. Thankfully, the rhymes in the text do not continue past the first chapter. Children will enjoy the frequent puns and Beatrice’s preference for climbing trees and hanging upside down. The story drifts dangerously close to pedantry when Beatrice asks for advice from a grandmotherly neighbor but is saved by likable characters and upside-down cake. Beatrice seems to be white; Lenny’s surname, Santos, suggests that she may be Latina; their school is a diverse one.

A kind child in a book for middle-grade readers? There’s no downside to that. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-6738-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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