When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

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

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. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014


A fresh, if not quite as seamless, alternative to Robert D. and Daniel San Souci’s Song of Sedna (1981).

A popular Inuit cautionary legend, featuring a haughty young woman and a gruesome climactic twist.

Arnaq will accept no suitor, until a shaman sea bird disguised as a handsome young man sweeps her away with glittering promises to a wretched, reeking tent on a distant shore. When her father arrives to rescue her, the shaman raises such a storm that her terrified dad casts her overboard—and cuts off her fingers to keep her from holding on to the boat. Those fingers are transformed into whales and seals, and she, into a testy spirit named Nuliajuq, who calls up storms on all who “disrespect the land or the sea.” This and other modern-sounding lines (“Eventually Arnaq succumbed to complete depression”) give the otherwise formal narrative a playfully anachronistic air that may or may not be intentional. Lim illustrates the tale in a realistic rather than stylized way, using flowing lines and brush strokes to depict natural settings, faces, Arnaq’s lustrous locks (and, though seen only from a distance, fingerless hands), and a range of accurately detailed arctic and sea animals. In an afterword, the author explains that the sea spirit goes by several regional names; a pronunciation guide to Inuktitut words in this version is also included.

A fresh, if not quite as seamless, alternative to Robert D. and Daniel San Souci’s Song of Sedna (1981). (Picture book/folk tale. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-927095-75-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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