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ISABEL IN BLOOM

Heartfelt and moving.

A tween girl finds ways to connect her old life in the Philippines to her new life in America.

It’s 1999, and 12-year-old Isabel Ligaya is leaving the one home she’s ever known to live in San Francisco. She’s excited but nervous to be reunited with Mama, who moved to the U.S. five years ago for work, hoping to provide better lives for Isabel and her grandparents. San Francisco couldn’t be more different from the gardens and greenery she’s used to. Feeling like she doesn’t belong in this strange place with a mom she barely knows, Isabel searches for “the people / places / things / that feel like / home,” just like Lolo, her grandfather, told her to. She finds solace in her school’s forgotten garden, makes friends in the culinary club, and learns to grow and bloom in her new environment. Told in verse, this is a charming story of growth, family, friends, community, and finding connections between old and new. Isabel’s thoughts, her intense and sometimes conflicting feelings about immigrating, and her changing relationship with her mother are beautifully expressed and relatable. Sprinkled throughout the text are details about Filipino American history and Filipino culture, language, and diaspora experiences. While most of the book is written in free verse, readers are also introduced to other poetic forms, such as acrostic and concrete poetry.

Heartfelt and moving. (author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593302712

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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WRECKING BALL

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

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

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. 18, 2019

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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