A lovingly authentic debut that shines.

MINDY KIM AND THE YUMMY SEAWEED BUSINESS

Young Mindy takes an entrepreneurial approach to a new school and a new life.

Moving from California to Florida is tough. On top of that, Korean American Mindy and her father are still grieving the recent loss of her mom from a long illness. The first day at her new school is discouraging, as she is teased for her lunch of kimchi, seaweed, eggs, and rice. The next day a White classmate named Sally tries the seaweed and effectively flips public opinion, making Mindy’s lunch very popular. Encouraged by Sally’s enthusiasm, Mindy starts trading her seaweed, then opts to sell it to raise money for a puppy (a long-held dream of hers) that she hopes will alleviate her father’s sadness. The evenly paced plot thickens when a disgruntled classmate, a White boy named Brandon, reports Mindy’s forbidden business to a teacher, causing Sally, Mindy, and Brandon to go to the principal’s office. Just on the verge of settling in, Mindy now must untangle this mess. Lee ambitiously takes on a number of issues with a new school, microaggressions, friendships, and grief, and she artfully manages to balance it all. Mindy’s accessible, genuine-sounding voice is sincere without diminishing the gravity of heavy issues. Lee also knows when to insert scenes of family love that prevent Mindy’s dad from being defined solely by his grief. Ho contributes friendly-looking black-and-white illustrations every few pages.

A lovingly authentic debut that shines. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4009-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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