A highly readable work of juvenile fiction about a spirited young girl’s ups and downs.


You've Got Verve, Jamie Ireland!

Rose’s debut children’s novel delivers a valuable narrative about a fifth-grader facing bullying, learning disabilities and a ghostly mystery.

After 10-year-old Jamie Ireland’s best friend moves away, a bully targets her on the bus, and her teacher humiliates her in class over her messy handwriting. Writing makes her hand cramp, and she has trouble spelling because her brain scrambles certain words and letters. Jamie’s loving parents are busy with work, and she’s sure that they expect her to be as perfect as her older sister. One night, Jamie has an odd dream about a woman offering her a book with a heart-shaped grease stain on its cover—“[a]nd that’s when Jamie’s dream hopped like a rabbit from her asleep-brain into her wide-awake-brain.” She rummages in her attic and makes a discovery that connects her with her grandmother, who died before she was born: a cookbook with a heart-shaped grease stain and a special recipe for apple pie. Jamie delves into the science of cooking and adds baking to her other interests, which include running races at recess and reading. But when the bullying continues, Jamie’s learning problems worsen. So does her frustration, culminating in a suspension from school and a counselor’s request that she keep a daily inspiration diary. The pages of this diary also feature well-chosen quotations from wide-ranging sources (such as “Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand,” by philosopher Baruch Spinoza). The line drawings and graphic design elements by illustrator Tito add visual interest as Rose deftly tells the story of Jamie’s emergence from her shell and her diagnosis of dyslexic dysgraphia. The author’s prose is never preachy or saccharine, and it nicely builds suspense where appropriate. A junior baking contest ends the book on a satisfying note.

A highly readable work of juvenile fiction about a spirited young girl’s ups and downs.

Pub Date: March 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4848-0070-6

Page Count: 184

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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