A vanilla-flavored tale with a built-in community-service message that may encourage youthful entrepreneurial efforts—or at...

READ REVIEW

BLUEBERRY BONANZA

From the Raccoon River Kids Adventures series , Vol. 1

Nicholas’ family has so many blueberries that they hardly know what to do. The bear in the backyard only complicates the situation!

Nicholas has been taking care of the Preston blueberry bushes for a long time, and he has been setting out pails of berries for the bear every summer. He hopes he’s made a deal with the bear: if he provides berries, the bear won’t take them from the bushes. But there are too many berries for his family to pick on their own. At first, he invites the neighbors to pick some, and the next summer, he invites his class to help. He sells lots of the extra berries everyone has helped pick in order to raise money for the new rubber mats for the local playground. His admirable hard work and generosity result in Nico’s being named the town’s “Top Businessman of the Year.” Tuchman’s pleasant, cartoonlike grayscale illustrations depict an evidently largely white community, though at least one bystander is depicted wearing the hijab. These illustrations (many of them representing Nico’s various signs) break up pages that each feature several paragraphs of text. There is little character development in this tale and not much in the way of conflict, making this effort feel more like a very long early reader rather than an early chapter book. It ends with a teaser for the next in the series.

A vanilla-flavored tale with a built-in community-service message that may encourage youthful entrepreneurial efforts—or at least kindness to bears. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943978-29-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Persnickety Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Young readers will recognize Suds as one of their own and will gladly follow him to fourth grade. Sweet and funny.

THIRD GRADE ANGELS

Suds Morton is not yet a “Fourth Grade Rat.” In this prequel to Spinelli's 1991 standby, he is a year younger and, according to his school’s traditional chant, he aspires to the sobriquet of “Third Grade Angel.”

When his teacher announces her intention of rewarding angelic behavior with a halo, Suds decides he wants to be the first angel. Between his cool new friend Joey, his wise mom and a little conclusion-jumping, he comes up with a plan. But, of course, his results are just a little off-kilter. Suds, nicknamed for his preference for calming soaks in bubble baths when he gets “chipmunky,” needs all the help he can get to deal with the various disasters and tribulations that threaten to overwhelm him. Along with the angel chase there’s a pesky little sister, a fifth-grade bully and total rejection by the girl he adores. Spinelli doesn’t miss a beat in recreating the characters from the earlier work and never reveals any hint of Suds’ fourth-grade future. He lets readers into Suds’ 8-year-old mind without condescension. His problems and concerns are treated comically but with genuine kindness. Suds is innocent, gullible and trusting; he is also entirely good-hearted.

Young readers will recognize Suds as one of their own and will gladly follow him to fourth grade. Sweet and funny. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-38772-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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