Simple, hopeful, and positive. (Verse fiction. 7-10)

BULLY ON THE BUS

A bully on the bus proves to be more than siblings Leroy and Ruby can handle alone.

Even though grade schooler Leroy loves his teacher and his fellow Superkids in Mrs. Wilson’s classroom, he dreads the trip to and from school for one particular reason—DJ. A high schooler who changes the color of her hair almost as frequently as her mood, DJ finds respite from her own frustrating life by tormenting Leroy. Insults, mockery, and poking are only the start, and there’s little that older sister Ruby, who’s only in grade five, can do to help. When the cupcake Leroy has made for his teacher disappears into DJ’s mouth, he is crushed. His parents and teacher notice a change in his demeanor, but Leroy feels nervous confiding in them. When he does, they hatch a plan. Leroy has a list of things he can do to combat DJ, including ignoring her, sitting in a seat close to the bus driver, and speaking confidently. But it’s his secret weapon, a storybook that distracts him and interests DJ, that finally encourages peace on the bus. Leroy learns the important lesson of show and tell: “Show the bully you don’t care. / Tell an adult.” Simply written in verse, this is a story many children will find familiar. An optimistic ending might be just the encouragement most kids need, but it may be a little improbable for some readers. Set in Australia, the book assumes a white default.

Simple, hopeful, and positive. (Verse fiction. 7-10) (Verse fiction7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-770-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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