In a companion to Chance and the Butterfly (2011), released simultaneously, ultra-whiny fourth-grader Martha is teamed with foster child Chance to work on an extended school project. Martha has lots of issues: She's adopted, a fact she was okay with until her adoptive mother got pregnant; her birth mother is trying to establish a better relationship with her, although Martha definitely doesn’t love the woman; she’s alienated all of her friends with her prickly attitude; and her adoptive parents must not love her any more since they keep expecting her to help out a bit. Martha sometimes manages to put a good face on her dejection and anger, so the adults around her seem oblivious to her nearly poisonous attitude, but her peers are quick to discover her angst. With the exception of the occasionally tolerant Chance, a boy with a few adjustment issues of his own, she has become a pariah. While children are rarely angels, making Martha’s baditude believable enough, she is a hard character to spend time with. Many readers relatively new to longer books may be unwilling to plow through 15 chapters focused on a girl they would most likely have little patience with if they knew her and so may miss the hidden message of looking beneath the surface at kids that present friendship challenges. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55469-383-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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This amusing but never especially compelling dog tale is most likely to appeal to animal lovers. (Fiction. 8-11)


From the My Dog Ugly series

Nine-year-old Eric was thrilled to get a puppy from the animal shelter. But Ugly has now grown into an out-of-control dog.

The primary reason for that is Eric, of course. It’s been far too easy for him to leave Ugly’s care to his busy mom, so the young dog has never received any training, and now Eric’s parents and his rather unpleasant, much older sister have lost patience with both boy and dog. Worse is that Ugly prefers the person who feeds him, leaving Eric feeling rejected and unmotivated. If Ugly isn’t to be sent away, Eric has to step up and take over, a lesson he’s quite reluctant to embrace in spite of gentle—if rather pedantic—guidance from his grandfather. Eric’s first-person narrative is represented as a book he’s writing, apparently as self-motivated bibliotherapy. With amusing advice from his friends and help from Maggie, an experienced dog trainer, Eric eventually learns his lessons—and so does Ugly. Ugly’s misadventures are believable, as is Eric’s avoidance of responsibility. Maggie provides interesting dog-training hints, and the happy ending may inspire readers to pick up Ugly’s next misadventure, My Dog Gets a Job, which publishes simultaneously. Eric, his family, and Maggie present white in Lancett’s engaging illustrations; he has at least one friend of color.

This amusing but never especially compelling dog tale is most likely to appeal to animal lovers. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8086-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A bit disjointed and episodic, but Tristan is a likable companion.


From the Doughnut Fix series , Vol. 1

Tristan’s family has always loved living in New York City, but all that is about to change.

Dad announces that they are moving to a dilapidated, purple house on a hill on the outskirts of the very small town of Petersville in upstate New York. Baby sister Zoe is frightened and confused. Jeanine, two years younger than Tristan and a math genius in gifted and talented classes, is appalled and worried about her educational prospects. Tristan is devastated, for he is a city kid through and through. Because they won’t be starting school for several months, their parents tell Jeanine and Tristan they must complete a project. Jeanine selects a complicated scientific and mathematical study that allows her to remain uninvolved with people. Tristan, who loves to cook, like his chef mom, decides to start a business making and selling the supposedly mind-blowing chocolate-cream doughnuts once famous in Petersville but now no longer made. His business plan leads to adventures, new friends, and a sense of acceptance. Tristan is a charmer; he’s earnest, loving, wistful, and practical, and he narrates his own tale without guile. But he is the only character so well defined—next to him, the supporting cast feels flat. The family is described as Jewish early on, but their Judaism is kept well to the background; the people of Petersville are white by default.

A bit disjointed and episodic, but Tristan is a likable companion. (recipes, business plan, acknowledgements) (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5541-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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