VIOLET BING AND THE GRAND HOUSE

Almost eight, Violet Bing is not a shrinking violet; in fact, she says “no” a lot. Usually it’s to small things, like lumpy pancakes or swimming or a play date, but now she refuses to join her parents for the family vacation. Her parents call her bluff and Violet ends up staying with her great-aunt Astrid in her big house. The lure of The Grand House is not immediately obvious to our young heroine as she is much too busy finding fault and refusing to enjoy anything. But, her great-aunt’s blasé attitude and the house’s “Sunroom” finally force Violet to come out of her shell and into the land of imagination and even friendship. Paros’s delightful sketches, one step away from stick figures, are the perfect light touch this endearing story deserves. Violet, with her eight or so strands of stick-straight hair, equally straight arms and enormous feet, finds her special place, her own Mary Jane shoes and many “Things of Interest.” Let’s hope this is not the last of Violet. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-06151-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of...

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE WRATH OF THE WICKED WEDGIE WOMAN

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 5

Trying to salvage failing grades, George and Harold use their handy 3-D Hypno Ring on termagant teacher Ms. Ribble—and succeed only in creating a supervillain with a medusa-like ’do and a yen to conquer the world with wedgie power. 

Using a pair of robot sidekicks and plenty of spray starch, she even overcomes Captain Underpants. Is it curtains (or rather, wedgies) for all of us? Can the redoubtable fourth graders rescue the Waistband Warrior (a.k.a. Principal Krupp) and find a way to save the day? Well, duh. Not, of course, without an epic battle waged in low-budget Flip-O-Rama, plus no fewer than three homemade comics, including an “Origin of Captain Underpants” in which we learn that his home planet of Underpantyworld was destroyed by the . . . wait for it . . . “Starch Ship Enterprize.” As in the previous four episodes, neither the pace nor the funky humor (“Diapers and toilets and poop . . . oh my!”) lets up for a moment.  Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of staleness. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-04999-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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