An exceptionally charming and well-executed romp that brings to life loving family relationships and an enticing fairy-tale...

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WHERE'S HALMONI?

Korean siblings have a rip-roaring adventure, tumbling into a magical land in search of their missing grandmother in this folklore-inspired graphic novel.

A girl and her little brother arrive at their halmoni’s home only to find her mysteriously absent and large paw prints covering the floor. Falling through the doors of a bedding closet into a fantastical wilderness inhabited by classic Korean folk-tale characters, the siblings work together—armed only with a backpack full of snacks, an enchanted back scratcher, a golden door handle, and their plucky wits—to find Halmoni. The children’s dialogue is written in English, while the utterances of the rabbit, goblins, tiger, and nine-tailed fox are given in the Korean alphabet, hangul. Romanized Korean also appears throughout, with an endnote providing translations as well as background about Korean folklore. Kim’s bright, expressive illustrations are a delight, effectively conveying triumph, indignation, surprise, consternation, and more. Hidden clues lurk, adding another layer of intrigue to the plot for observant readers to ponder. Cultural details are seamlessly integrated into the story, such as removing outside shoes to change into slippers indoors and gesturing “come here” in the East Asian manner. Those familiar with the culture will appreciate elements that are not explicitly explained, such as the little boy’s calling his sister “Noona,” the appropriate kinship term for an older female, making this an accessible, diverse title for a broad readership.

An exceptionally charming and well-executed romp that brings to life loving family relationships and an enticing fairy-tale world. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63217-077-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...

HONEY

Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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