A superficial sketch, driven far more by its worthy agenda than by any effort or evident desire to connect with real readers.

GO AHEAD AND DREAM

An NFL quarterback and the “Queen of Christian Fiction” (so styled by Time magazine) deliver a heaping shovelful of sugary inspiration.

Dreaming of becoming, respectively, a football player and a pilot, young classmates Alex and Bobby face obstacles. Alex is small and always is chosen last for playground kickball, and Bobby is a foster child with attendant self-esteem and poverty issues, but they overcome them with hard work and an encouraging jingle from Alex’s singing grandpa: “Go ahead and dream, / However big it seems. / Work hard, believe, / And don’t give up.” The news that grandpa has “gone to heaven” leaves both lads sad, but his memory prompts them to keep each other on the path to success, and by the time they’ve reached adulthood, guess what? Receiving nary a nod in either the blurb or Kingsbury’s afterword, Banning contributes appropriately bland, static scenes featuring realistically painted figures (Bobby has slightly darker skin than “Alex,” who closely resembles his adult namesake) with glossy skin and plastic smiles.

A superficial sketch, driven far more by its worthy agenda than by any effort or evident desire to connect with real readers. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-168625-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. .

THE CONTRACT

For his eponymous imprint, the New York Yankees star leads off with a self-referential tale of Little League triumphs.

In the first of a projected 10 episodes based on the same number of “Life Lessons” espoused by the lead author’s Turn 2 Foundation, third-grader Derek turns in an essay announcing that his dream is to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (No. 1 on the Turn 2 list: “Set your goals high”). His parents take him seriously enough not only to present him with a “contract” that promises rewards for behaviors like working hard and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but also to put a flea in the ear of his teacher after she gives him a B-minus on the essay for being unrealistic. Derek then goes on to pull up his math grade. He also proceeds to pull off brilliant plays for his new Little League team despite finding himself stuck at second base while the coach’s son makes multiple bad decisions at shortstop and, worse, publicly puts down other team members. Jeter serves as his own best example of the chosen theme’s theoretical validity, but as he never acknowledges that making the majors (in any sport) requires uncommon physical talent as well as ambition and determination, this values-driven pitch is well out of the strike zone.

Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. . (foundation ad and curriculum guide, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2312-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Jeter/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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