Lively fun with animal friends.

Has Plum’s pep deserted him?

Several animals from the Athensville Zoo are on their way to visit an elementary school. Overconfident Itch the ningbing (an Australian marsupial), unaware that zookeeper Lizzie will be doing all the talking, looks forward to “lecturing eager young minds.” Plum, the usually chipper peacock, on the other hand, is anxious—maybe the schoolchildren won’t like him or he’ll get lost. So when they arrive at the school to find the students have been sent home due to a blizzard, Plum is relieved. The animals are left in a school gym for the night until three self-important class mice free them. Itch heads for the library to meet the learned turtle, but Plum reluctantly explores with his friends. When his anxiety peaks, they reassure him, and when the mice reject Meg, another peacock, as “borrrring” and uncool, they buoy her as well before everyone comes together to save Itch, who finds himself outside and stranded in a snowdrift. Unlike Leave It to Plum (2022), this is not a mystery, and the relationship focus shifts from Lizzie to the rodents, but the pace is brisk, and sequel seekers will be pleased to revisit familiar characters (if dismayed that Itch’s longing for knowledge leads to his downfall). In Phelan’s engaging grayscale pen-and-wash illustrations, Lizzie has short curly hair; text and art cue her as Latine.

Lively fun with animal friends. (how to draw Plum) (Chapter book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-307920-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

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

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. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018


Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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