A nice blend of life’s joys and challenges for today’s middle-grade readers.

A tween struggles to navigate friendship and family in a new community.

For 11-year-old Macy Weaver, finding and keeping a best friend is a tough task. She thinks she has it all worked out with Josie, but their connection ends abruptly, and Macy is facing spending summer vacation alone. The news that her mom wants to move them from South Carolina to Maryland so she can attend college seems like a fresh start for Macy’s friend search despite the strain it places on her dad. Their family dynamic is further complicated by Macy’s mom’s decision to live on campus during the week while Macy and her dad stay in a small apartment. Once school begins, Macy is on a friendship mission, but, convinced she is not enough as she is, she makes up stories that she thinks will make her more attractive. When that does not work, she plants a wedge between two friends that backfires. Macy is an entertaining character whose desperate need shows the importance of friendship as young people develop. The portrayal of Macy’s immature mom will resonate with readers as they come to understand that not everyone has perfect parents. The appealing cast of characters, pop-culture references, and lively pacing make this an engaging read. Macy and most of the cast are Black; one of her friends is Chinese and Black, and one uses they/them pronouns.

A nice blend of life’s joys and challenges for today’s middle-grade readers. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46572-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022


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


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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