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FINALLY SEEN

Timely and pointed.

A Chinese girl moves to America to be reunited with her family.

When she was 5, Lina’s parents and baby sister left her in Beijing with her grandmother. Now she arrives in Southern California as a 10-year-old stranger to her own family. And what of the American dream? Her scientist father toils (sans green card) for a villainous, bigoted organic farmer, while her mother, unemployed since the pandemic put the nail salon where she worked out of business, makes bath bombs to sell online. They live in a one-bedroom apartment whose back rent is due in six weeks. Why isn’t Lina in any of the pictures displayed in their home? School is worse. Bullied by mean girls for her English, she vows never to speak again. But with the help of her ELL teacher, the school librarian, and a new friend, Lina begins to find her confidence and her voice through reading. Yang covers a lot of ground, from immigrant experiences and socio-economic inequities to climate change and middle school angst. The plotline that really stands out, however, is when Lina discovers that books can comfort the struggling, link people together, and create changes both internal and external. This theme propels the action through the book’s satisfying climax when she must decide whether to use her voice to stop a book that she loves from being banned in her classroom.

Timely and pointed. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8833-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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