A silly little series opener.



From the Pepper Party series , Vol. 1

A large, wacky family struggles to pick a family pet.

The Pepper family (mother Tee, father Sal, Meemaw, and six kids between the ages of 2 and 12) live in one “crazypants” house. The plot kicks off when 8-year-old Annie schemes to get a family pet after rescuing a tiny Chihuahua, Azzie, from a pack of squirrels. Azzie lives at Frida Flamingo’s Animal Adoption Agency. However, their father has a strict “Peppers don’t do pets” rule. Using both facts and appeals to emotion, she rallies her family to get a pet. But Annie’s adoption of Azzie isn’t guaranteed, as her siblings can’t decide on what kind of pet. Instead of compromising, and in accordance with Pepper family tradition, they draw a name out of a hat. Aspiring horror movie–maker Beta wins and picks a telegenic tarantula. Frustrated that Beta picked a “family” pet only he would enjoy, Annie gives in to a dark impulse and lets the spider out, leading to a humorous bathroom mishap (related from tarantula Harry’s perspective) that sends him back to the shelter and the Peppers back to the hat. On the cycle of animal disasters goes, until the Peppers are banned from pet adoption and every kid’s heartbroken. At last Annie comes up with a cinematic scheme to make things right, and the Pepper parents commit to responsible pet ownership. The third-person narration is smart, well-paced, and funny; Cooper’s grayscale cartoons add fizz. Annie and Beta are both blond and appear white, but some family members seem to have slightly-darker-than–paper-white skin.

A silly little series opener. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-29702-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)


Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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