THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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YOU'RE NOT MY BEST FRIEND ANYMORE

Molly and Ben live in the same two family house, wear identical shirts to school, sit together in the lunch room, and, since their birthdays are only five days apart, share a single party every year. It’s a beautiful friendship that hits the rocks when they can’t agree on the kind of tent to buy with their collective savings. After nearly a week of not speaking, they reluctantly agree to have their party “for the sake of the grown-ups,” and discover that they’ve both spent all their money buying each other sleeping bags. Rift mended, they camp out together that night in the yard. In realistic, golden-toned watercolors, Soman artfully captures his young characters (one of whom is African-American) passing through annoyance, anger, regret, and loneliness before moving back to contentment. Conflict resolution is a common theme, but it’s rare and refreshing to see children work out their differences on their own, without adult advice. (Picture book. 6-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8037-1559-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

THE HANNAH CHRONICLES

THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH HADLEY, GIRL SPY: THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR

Hannah Hadley is a young special agent who must thwart a clear and present danger to the United States in Hoover’s “smart is cool” young adult novel.

Hannah Hadley might seem like most 13-year-old girls. She enjoys painting, playing with her MP3 player and spending time with friends. But that’s where the similarities end. Hadley doubles as Agent 10-1, among the youngest spies drafted into the CIA’s Div Y department. She’s joined in her missions by her 10-pound Shih Tzu, Kiwi (with whom she communicates telepathically), and her best friend Tommie Claire, a blind girl with heightened senses. When duty calls, the group sneaks to a hidden command center located under the floor of Hadley’s art studio. Her current mission, aptly named “Operation Farmer Jones,” takes her to a secluded farmhouse in Canada. There, al-Qaida terrorists have gathered the necessary ingredients for a particularly devastating nuclear warhead that they intend to fire into America. The villains are joined by the Mad Madam of Mayhem, a physicist for hire whom the terrorists force to complete the weapon of mass destruction. With Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series and the ongoing 39 Clues novellas, covert missions and secret plans are the plots of choice in much of today’s fiction for young readers, and references to the famed 007 stories abound in Hoover’s tale. But while the plot feels familiar, Hoover’s use of modern slang—albeit strained at times—and gadgets such as the iTouch appeal to today’s youth. Placing girls in adult situations has been a mainstay since Mildred Wirt Benson first introduced readers to Nancy Drew in The Secret of the Old Clock, but Hannah Hadley is like Nancy Drew on steroids. Both are athletic, score well in their studies and have a measure of popularity. Hadley, however, displays a genius-level intellect and near superhuman abilities in her efforts to roust the terrorists—handy skills for a young teen spy who just so happens to get the best grades in school.

A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0615419688

Page Count: 239

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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