A beautifully evolving story of an indigenous American family.

CHICKADEE

From the Birchbark House series , Vol. 4

Erdrich continues the saga of Omakayas and her family, who now embark in 1866 on a life-changing search that takes them from Minnesota’s North Woods to the Great Plains in this fourth book of The Birchbark House series.

Omakayas is now a young mother with lively 8-year-old twins named Chickadee and Makoons. When the tribe’s bully, Zhigaag, calls Chickadee a “weakling” who’s “scrawny like his namesake,” grandmother Nokomis reminds him that “[s]mall things have great power.” After Makoons tricks Zhigaag, his oafish sons avenge their father by hijacking Chickadee to the Red River Valley. Chickadee’s family searches desperately until they reach Pembina on the Great Plains. Meanwhile, resourceful Chickadee escapes and survives with help from his wee namesake until he runs into his Uncle Quill driving an ox cart of furs to sell in St. Paul. Quill and Chickadee travel with fellow traders on the Red River ox cart trail, arriving in Pembina to find Makoons seriously ill. Chickadee and Makoons extend Omakaya’s story to the next generation as her Ojibwe family transitions from its native woods culture to life on the plains. Realistic black-and-white spot art provides snapshots of Chickadee’s adventures.

A beautifully evolving story of an indigenous American family. (map, glossary & pronunciation guide of Ojibwe terms) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-057790-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic.

A PINCH OF MAGIC

From the Pinch of Magic series , Vol. 1

When an ancient curse threatens her life and the lives of her sisters, Betty Widdershins seeks a way to break it.

Adventurous, 13-year-old Betty and her two sisters—Fliss, elder, and Charlie, younger—all live on the island of Crowstone in a decrepit village inn operated by their grandmother Bunny, who has always been strangely reluctant to let her granddaughters go anywhere. After Betty’s abortive attempt to surreptitiously leave Crowstone, Bunny reveals the family secret: All Widdershins girls have been under a curse for over 150 years. If one ever leaves Crowstone, she will die by the next sunset. Bunny gives Fliss a mirror, Betty nesting dolls, and Charlie a traveling bag, each containing a different magical power, to use if they need to hide or escape quickly. Intent on altering their fate, the sisters accidentally trigger the curse by leaving Crowstone while helping a young stranger escape from prison. For heroine Betty, who has “spent her life wishing for bigger things,” the imminent threat of losing her sisters proves life-changing. Facing death by the end of the day, Betty must rely on the magical objects, her sisters, and clever thinking to uncover the origins of the Widdershins curse while simultaneously confronting a rapid-fire series of perilous plot twists, betrayals, and shocking revelations in an effort to remake her family history. Betty and her family appear to be white.

A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-19331-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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