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DANNY CHUNG SUMS IT UP

Funny and heartwarming; a balanced equation of family, culture, and being true to yourself.

Eleven-year-old Danny is surprised by his parents with a new bunk bed—and a roommate—when his grandmother from China comes to England and moves in with them.

While he’d rather spend time with his friends, Danny’s tasked with showing his paternal grandmother, Nai Nai, around. Nai Nai doesn’t speak English, and her lack of familiarity with the local culture continually embarrasses Danny. But the more time he spends with her, the more Danny finds to admire. The intergenerational relationship between grandmother and grandson shows the power of love to connect across ages, cultures, and language barriers, as Danny doesn’t speak Nai Nai’s dialect. Told with humor and authenticity, this refreshingly sweet story also touches on the challenges Danny and his family face as British Chinese people: Although Danny was born in England, he is still subjected to stereotypes about his race (contrary to others’ beliefs, he struggles with math) and witnesses xenophobia toward his grandmother. Despite their limited verbal communication, Nai Nai’s actions show the lengths she’ll go to protect and stand up for her grandson. Her strength inspires Danny in multiple ways and their bond helps bridge the cultural gap between Danny’s artistic passion and his parents’ ambitions for him. Danny’s detailed drawings appear throughout the book and reinforce his cheeky, irreverent sense of humor and dedication to his art.

Funny and heartwarming; a balanced equation of family, culture, and being true to yourself. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4821-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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