Believable and endearing characters in a realistic elementary-school setting will be just the thing for fans of Clementine...

MARTY MCGUIRE

From the Marty McGuire series , Vol. 1

When the promised land of third grade does not pan as promised, Marty McGuire finds herself playing a completely new role.

Mrs. Aloi, her maracas-shaking teacher, is putting together the parts for the class play of The Frog Prince, and she decides that Marty is perfect for the part of the princess. Marty, who prefers learning about frog anatomy to kissing or, worse, throwing a frog, is horrified. She gets little support from her scientist mother or her teacher father—a princess she shall be! On top of this bad news, Marty’s best friend has joined the girly-girl group and does not seem interested in playing outside and pretending to be Jane Goodall anymore. Messner gets all the details of third grade right: the social chasm between the girls who want to be like the older kids and the ones who are still little girls, the Mad Minutes for memorizing arithmetic facts, the silly classroom-control devices teachers use and the energy students of this age put into projects like class plays. Floca’s black-and-white sketches are filled with movement and emotion and are frequent enough to help new chapter-book readers keep up with this longer text.

Believable and endearing characters in a realistic elementary-school setting will be just the thing for fans of Clementine and Ramona. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-14244-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A little ruff around the edges.

HEART OF GOLD

From the Cutiecorns series , Vol. 1

A new series features puppies with magical unicorn horns.

The Cutiecorns are thrilled when they learn that they’re about to have their Enchanted Jubilee, which means they’re ready to start learning how to use their magic. Golden retriever puppy Sparkle gets an extra surprise—her parents celebrate her Jubilee by gifting her a locket that’s a precious family heirloom. As with any book for this age group, as soon as an important item is introduced it’s guaranteed to be promptly lost; poor Sparkle is robbed of it by a mysterious stranger. While investigating, the Cutiecorns overhear a scary story about a bad cat wizard, Claw—and the description fits that of Sparkle’s assailant. They venture off into the Furbidden Forest to find the cat and retrieve the locket. The narration is filled with entertaining wordplay for young pun lovers (“pawsome”; “furever”), and the concept of magical puppies is an appealingly childcentric one. The art is a mixed bag—enormous-eyed puppies with shapes that highlight the various breeds (even Claw, despite pointy claws and teeth, is adorable in a chubby way), but the vaunted horns distractingly look an awful lot like party hats. The story really goes to the dogs and falls apart in a confusing climax that relies on deus ex machina magic and an on-the-spot plan that’s perfectly coordinated without any communication among the Cutiecorns. Book 2, Purrfect Pranksters, publishes simultaneously.

A little ruff around the edges. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-54036-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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