NIKKI & DEJA

Nikki and Deja are best friends, next-door neighbors and schoolmates. They do almost everything together, from watching cartoons and sitting on the porch, to going shopping, making cookies and playing at recess. But when a new neighbor moves in down the street, things may be about to change. Antonia has enviable possessions—a canopy bed and a trampoline—and is in their class at school. When the three play jump rope together, Antonia’s too bossy, but then a misunderstanding occurs at the flea market and Nikki and Deja struggle over the formation of a drill team. It looks as though the friendship may be over, but in an elementary-school world of clubs, competition and jealousy, it’s up to Nikki and Deja to sort things out. Accessible writing, authentic characters, an easy-to-identify-with plot and Freeman’s appealing black-and-white illustrations come together smoothly in this straightforward friendship tale. English nicely fills an underdeveloped area—this is a first-chapter book featuring African-American girls, and race is presented as an attribute of the characters rather than as an issue. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-618-75238-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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Funny, silly, and fairly empathetic—and perhaps even consoling to young, impulsive people who hope to be better (someday).

THE BEST OF IGGY

The portrait of a boy as a young rascal: Iggy doesn’t really mean to be “bad,” does he?

A narrator in an amusing direct address and somewhat adult voice serves as both apologist and somewhat bemused observer of three incidents recounted in 20 very short chapters. Iggy Frangi is 9 and in fourth grade. He likes his teacher and tolerates his family—mother, father, sisters Maribel (older) and Molly (younger). Like many people his age, Iggy doesn’t realize that something is wrong with what he is doing until either he is in the middle of doing it (and is reprimanded) or until it’s too late. Ricks’ cartoon illustrations portray Iggy and his family as white-presenting and his lively friends as slim boys with dark skin of various shades. In the first story Iggy defends his own honor and dignity with a strategy involving a skateboard, ladder, and trampoline in a way that only just avoids complete disaster. In the second, Iggy’s flair for going big gets slightly out of hand when he “los[es] his mind” in an incident involving shaving cream and lipstick. The third story involves his teacher and a minor injury and is an incident Iggy regrets “even years later.” Authorial asides combine with amusing cartoons (the universal strikethrough symbol is enlivened by repetitions of “nope” forming the outer circle) to enlist readers as co-conspirators.

Funny, silly, and fairly empathetic—and perhaps even consoling to young, impulsive people who hope to be better (someday). (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1330-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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FOUR FEET, TWO SANDALS

By keeping the focus squarely on their child characters, Williams and Mohammed illuminate the plight of refugee children without preaching or pontificating. When aid workers deliver a shipment of clothes, both Lina and Ferozi claim a sandal. When Ferozi’s grandmother points out the foolishness of wearing only one shoe, the girl offers her sandal to Lina. Ten-year-old Lina makes the best of what could have been a difficult and disappointing situation and suggests a different solution: The girls will share the pair, each wearing them on alternating days. As the days pass, readers see their growing friendship and observe the harsh conditions of the camp. Earth tones predominate, reflecting the dusty environment while also offering, in some scenes, a sense of warmth. The story ends with the friends’ separation. Lina’s family has received permission to emigrate to the United States. The girls’ decision to split the sandals once more ensures that their friendship won’t be forgotten, and it seems likely that their story will linger in listeners’ minds as well. Touching and true to life. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5296-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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