MY TEACHER IS AN IDIOM

Nothing to write home about.

Confusion about idioms plus rudeness in the cafeteria equals unpleasant consequences for second-graders Patrick and Richard.

Prankster Patrick loves nothing more than a good joke. Richard is determined that Patrick will never get him in trouble with his joking again. It’s Mind Your Manners Month at school, and the cafeteria is a challenging place to stay out of trouble. When Patrick and Richard decide to suck red Jell-O up a straw and pretend to be vampires, they end up freaking out Sophie, the new student from France, who thinks she is seeing blood. Mr. E., the vice principal, gets doused in “blood.” The boys are busted for having such horrible manners, but things get a little more complicated when Sophie tells the boys they are stupid. “I call a cat a cat,” she declares. Thus begins the running joke of the book: French idioms are different from American ones. When Sophie “makes white cabbage,” it takes a bit of work for the boys to understand she is drawing a blank. Readers will enjoy trying to untangle Sophie’s idiomatic speech and will be glad to see both boys pay their debts. Neither boy is particularly likable, however, and Patrick’s father—who encourages his son’s naughtiness—is especially unpleasant. One unfortunate running gag—Mr. E. is mocked for his enormous stash of size XXXXL T-shirts—does not play out in the illustrations, in which his size is depicted as unremarkable.

Nothing to write home about. (Fiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-05680-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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