A bit long for fluff but fun nevertheless.

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LOU LOU & PEA AND THE MURAL MYSTERY

From the Lou Lou & Pea series

Brown-haired, white Lou Lou Bombay and her blue-eyed, dark-skinned Mexican-American best friend, Peacock Pearl, work to solve a series of petty crimes in their city while also participating in Latino cultural events.

The first crime of which the girls are aware is the suspicious staining of Pea’s cousin Magdalena’s quinceañera dress. Lou Lou’s prize camellia, Pinky, then falls victim to “planticide,” killed by bleach and vinegar. Lou Lou and Pea’s neighborhood, El Corazón, is full of colorful murals, and as each crime occurs, one of the murals shows something related to the crime. While getting ready to celebrate Día de los Muertos, the girls also plot ways to solve the mystery. The tone is light and the characterizations equally breezy. The third-person narrative has a strong voice, offering such quaint, explanatory sentences as, “Gardening was too dirty for her taste but she supported her best friend.” Despite the purported equality of the friendship, the text more often reveals Lou Lou’s thoughts and feelings than Pea’s. Coupled with a plethora of placed-for-optimal-understanding Spanish phrases, this gives the book a feeling—perhaps ironically—of targeting a non-Latino audience. Still, some great humor, from a nautically obsessed father to “Danielle Desserts and her snooty-girl posse,” mitigates the didacticism. The respectful relationship between the two girls offers welcome respite from tales of best-friend angst.

A bit long for fluff but fun nevertheless. (Mystery. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30295-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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