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Expert plot and character development take this latest in the series up a notch.

A peacock’s kindheartedness and cleverness prove immune to cynicism.

Undaunted by rain, peppy Plum is the only zoo inhabitant around when a bedraggled raccoon shows up. Plum’s ordered to bring food—pronto. All that he can find is a snack bar that a visitor dropped in the tiger pit, and he cleverly obtains it for the raccoon. Despite others’ doubts that the raccoon is really Plum’s friend, the trusting bird just wants to help. Then more raccoons show up, and Plum seeks help. Peahen Meg scorns raccoons as “scavengers and thieves” and gives them a dressing-down, but that doesn’t dissuade the interlopers. Text and illustrations make clear that the peacocks are at a disadvantage, both in terms of size and number. Power makes the raccoons hungry for more, and their rudeness becomes bullying. But with help from Itch the ningbing, Jeremy the cat, and, naturally, Plum, “brains and heart” eventually save the day. A couple of wordless stretches of sketches provide a visual break, but many smaller vignettes add to the drama of the story and bolster the characterization (and add evidence that not all raccoons are alike). Pacing is smooth, and the plot moves smartly. Like other series installments, this tale demands and develops a certain level of reader sophistication to see through the sarcasm, assumptions, and bluster.

Expert plot and character development take this latest in the series up a notch. (Chapter book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780063296244

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 1

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience.

Speaking up is hard when you’re shy, and it can be even harder if you’ve got two languages in your head.

Third-grader Estrella “Stella” Díaz, is a shy, Mexican-American girl who draws pictures and loves fish, and she lives in Chicago with her mother and older brother, Nick. Jenny, Stella’s best friend, isn’t in her class this year, and Stella feels lonely—especially when she sees that Vietnamese-American Jenny is making new friends. When a new student, Stanley Mason, arrives in her class, Stella introduces herself in Spanish to the white former Texan without realizing it and becomes embarrassed. Surely Stanley won’t want to befriend her after that—but he seems to anyway. Stella often confuses the pronunciation between English and Spanish sounds and takes speech classes. As an immigrant with a green card—a “legal alien,” according to her teacher—Stella feels that she doesn’t fully belong to either American culture or Mexican culture, and this is nicely reflected in her not being fully comfortable in either language, an experience familiar to many immigrant and first-generation children. This early-middle-grade book features italicized Spanish words and phrases with direct translations right after. There is a small subplot about bullying from Stella’s classmate, and readers will cheer as they see how, with the help of her friends and family, Stella overcomes her shyness and gives a presentation on Jacques Cousteau. Dominguez’s friendly black-and-white drawings grace most pages.

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-858-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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