NANA TAKES THE REINS!

Though her daughter thinks she’s too old to do anything interesting, Nana takes it into her head to ride a bull when the rodeo comes to Lettuceberg. But first, she and grandchildren Eufala and Bog have to get her 1948 Dusty Drifter repaired. And before that, they must outsmart Tuff and his seven Ruffies, larger-than-life adult bullies rumored to eat house pets. The tangled lariat on the endpapers reflects the twists and turns of this episodic nonsense tale in which Nana finds the key to Tuff’s heart. An intrusive third-person narrator describes Nana’s adventures in short chapters with intriguing titles, such as “One Undeniable Silver Lining” and “Mister Tasty Toes,” and plenty of dialogue. Occasionally readers are addressed directly, especially in the beginning as characters are introduced. Sometimes the narrator interrupts herself with an “oh dear,” or, “perhaps you’re wondering.” This companion to Nana Cracks the Case! (2010) stands alone; the static characters distinguished by a single trait (zany Nana, candy-loving Bog, bossy big sister Eufala and the soft-hearted bullies). Horne’s pop-eyed cartoon characters, in vignettes and some full-page gray-scale illustrations, add to the humor. Like Nana’s elderly car, this story hops along. The sheer randomness of the plot may keep readers fixed: What could possibly happen next? But in the end they are left with something less sticky than even mind-candy. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6260-8

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...

HONEY

Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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