A thrillingly melodramatic tale kept close to its Navajo roots.

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THE HERO TWINS

A NAVAJO-ENGLISH STORY OF THE MONSTER SLAYERS

Illustrations incorporating images drawn from traditional sand painting and pop culture alike accompany a new Navajo/English version of the early exploits of a pair of mythic heroes.

Kristofic opens with the expressed hope that he’s telling the story “in an accurate and respectful way without exposing too much of its sacredness.” He begins the tale by establishing the oppression of the Emergence People by vaguely described but monstrous naayéé’. Then Changing Woman gives birth to twins who grow up to overcome various challenges on the way to defeating Yé’iitsoh, a metal-clad giant, and earning their names: Monster Slayer (Naayéé’ neizghání) and He Who Cuts Life Out of the Enemy (Na’ídígishí). In James’ vigorous pictures, the Twins, their father, the Sun (Jó’honaa’éí), and their robotlike adversary are usually human figures with the rippling thews and poses of comic-book superheroes—but transformations occur frequently; when placed in the sky, the Sun takes an abstract form, for instance. A thrillingly scary, half-human Spider Woman headlines a cast of other stylized figures. The author doesn’t connect these Twins with others from pre-Columbian New World mythology, but he supplies a prefatory note on the cultural significance of the colors in the pictures. Throughout both the Navajo text and the English translation placed beneath, small marker icons are placed in equivalent spots so that readers can compare words and phrases.

A thrillingly melodramatic tale kept close to its Navajo roots. (Bilingual folk tale. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8263-5533-1

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Univ. of New Mexico

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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