Riveting historical fiction that will enrich and delight the audience.

FIVE THINGS ABOUT DRAGONFLIES

CHILDREN OF THE GLADES BOOK 1

In this middle-grade novel, a girl learns about her Black Seminole heritage.

Mia Bryant isn’t quite sure where she’s going. Her mom and dad have put the 11-year-old and her best friend, Paisley, into the family car and are taking them on a surprise trip—despite the stormy South Florida weather. Mia and Paisley barely look up from their phones when the family arrives at a building in the middle of nowhere, but the world inside is captivating. The building houses a museum about Mia and her father’s ancestors, the Black Seminoles. The Native American tribe, based in Georgia and Florida, historically took in enslaved people on the run. Mia is a direct descendant of Talula (“one who leaps water”), the spirited daughter of an African American man and a Seminole woman, who lived with the tribe in Spanish Florida. Mia learns that Talula loved to chase dragonflies and spoke multiple languages but longed to trade her traditional female chores for those that involved riding horses and wielding a bow and arrow. As the War of 1812 began, the peace in Talula’s village was threatened—with her Black father a major target—and the girl’s adventurous warrior spirit was put to the ultimate test. Meanwhile, in the modern day, Mia is inspired by Talula’s story. But soon after Mia watches it on film, a natural disaster strikes and she must be braver than she ever imagined. Anne, a prolific author and Florida resident who is of African and Indigenous descent, presents a series opener that is both well researched and well written. The author engages the audience with a dual perspective narration that’s exciting, suspenseful, and socially conscious, though not preachy. Anne supplements the little-known history of the Black Seminoles depicted in the novel with a short glossary of terms and additional information on real-life people and events after the story concludes. Though Mia only appears at the tale’s beginning and end, she’s a relatable young girl who finds her inner strength. The bulk of the unique book belongs to Talula, whose heroic actions will inspire young and older readers.

Riveting historical fiction that will enrich and delight the audience.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73626-886-5

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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

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. 19, 2019

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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