Campy (and camping) humor and a solid message will have readers wanting s’more! (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS CAMP OUT

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 4

The Ratsos go on a Big City Scouts camping trip.

When Big Lou brings his sons, Louie and Ralphie, and their scout group (introducing new characters as fellow scouts) on a big camping trip, he has a special surprise for them: Grandpa Ratso, who had been Big Lou’s scout leader back in the day, will be joining them to run the campout. Grandpa Ratso introduces them to the old Big City Scout Oath, which the older scouts latch onto: “No matter the problem / we solve it ourselves; / we know we can fix it / without any help.” They also adopt Grandpa’s dismissive attitude toward the handbook. This shift isn’t much of a stretch, as older side characters have already labeled brainy Velma a nerd and mocked her academic aptitude. The toxic masculinity that underlies this refusal to ask for help or direction is mined for all sorts of humorous mishaps—soggy tents, lack of food, and, of course, getting lost. Meanwhile, the younger scouts use their heads and, under the guidance of the handbook, rack up badges while saving the day, natch. The story’s climax brings in Grandma Ratso to set everyone straight, clearing up some confusion about the oath and reinforcing the message that it’s both smart and good to ask for help. While young readers may struggle with the cast size, the humor and funny illustrations make for a worthy compass.

Campy (and camping) humor and a solid message will have readers wanting s’more! (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0006-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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