A heartfelt but amusing story about the many challenges of growing up

SECRETS OUT!

From the Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine series , Vol. 2

Picking up where Friendship Over (2014) ends, this illustrated diary-style slice-of-life novel tells the continuing story of 10-year-old Celie Valentine Altman, centering on the all-important middle school topics of friendship and family.

The theme of secrets—finding them, keeping them, and the subtle ethics of these decisions—is a strong choice for Celie’s character, as she can’t stand not knowing what’s going on. She’s also willing to break moral boundaries to find out, spying and reading private correspondence. However, when her addled grandmother accidentally sets her sweater on fire, it’s Celie who tries to hide this important secret from her parents, as she fears her beloved grandmother will be taken away. On the friendship front, Celie’s longtime friend, Lula, has a new friend, Violet, and Celie doesn’t understand why Lula is sharing secrets with Violet rather than her. And at home, Celie struggles with her older sister, Jo, interfering with her privacy and insisting that Jo not keep her ice cream date secret from their parents. Although the issues Celie faces—loss of her best friend, conflicts with her sister, concerns about her cognitively compromised grandmother—are major, the story is in no way heavy, as Celie’s skewed perspective and the diary’s clever illustrations add humor and keep the tone light.

A heartfelt but amusing story about the many challenges of growing up . (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62091-777-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

WAYS TO GROW LOVE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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