AVA TREE AND THE WISHES THREE

When three of her wishes come true on her birthday, eight-year-old Ava Tree is sure she has the wishing power. But her power doesn’t extend to bringing her parents, dead two years now, back to life. Here, the writer of The Pony Pals offers a sympathetic stand-alone story about coping with loss. Ava lives with her grown brother, Jack, whose efforts to keep her childhood normal and to be the family she needs are laudable. The first-person narration moves smoothly through the events of three days: her birthday party, a pet show and a visit to the swimming pool with friends. Young readers will find simple sentences, straightforward chronology and Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations to reinforce and break up the text, but Betancourt slips in some narrative challenge, leaving them to wonder: Does Ava really have such power or is it all coincidence? This sophistication, Ava’s unusual situation and the realistic depiction of young people carrying on after a terrible loss set this book above the usual chapter-book fare. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-37760-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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RIVER STORY

Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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