This book is a good selection for those ready for the next step beyond early readers and will undoubtedly create more...

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GOOD DOG, MCTAVISH

From the McTavish Stories series , Vol. 1

A perceptive dog rescues a family in crisis with sheer cleverness and humor.

“McTavish’s decision to adopt the Peachey family was not the most sensible decision of his life.” So begins the adventure of a sandy-colored terrier who arrives unbidden, like Mary Poppins, in this domestic satire. Having “decided to give up being a mother,” Ma Peachey is boycotting her household responsibilities, leaving Pa Peachey cranky, Ava (14) gloomy, and Ollie (12) petulant. Only 8-year-old Betty is wise enough to see their dire straits. Who will do the cooking and the cleaning and get everyone to school on time? McTavish sees the youngest one’s sensible nature and works with her, without magic or fantasy, to bring the family back from the brink even as Ma Peachey indulges her yoga habit while the household falls to pieces. If the essential ridiculousness can be overlooked, this is a sweetly humorous story about training a family to behave. Readers will enjoy seeing the role reversal of the dog adopting a family, and they might gain some psychological awareness of others. Easton’s grayscale illustrations in her debut offer a gentle counterpoint, depicting the round-shouldered members of the Peachey family with light skin and straight, dark hair.

This book is a good selection for those ready for the next step beyond early readers and will undoubtedly create more children wanting a great dog to join the family. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0058-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Sweetly low-key and totally accessible.

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THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER

Billy Miller’s second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way.

Billy’s year begins with his worry over the lump on his head, a souvenir of a dramatic summer fall onto concrete: Will he be up to the challenges his new teacher promises in her letter to students? Quickly overshadowing that worry, however, is a diplomatic crisis over whether he has somehow offended Ms. Silver on the first day of school. Four sections—Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother—offer different and essential focal points for Billy’s life, allowing both him and readers to explore several varieties of creative endeavor, small adventures, and, especially, both challenges and successful problem-solving. The wonderfully self-possessed Sal, his 3-year-old sister, is to Billy much as Ramona is to Beezus, but without the same level of tension. Her pillowcase full of the plush yellow whales she calls the Drop Sisters (Raindrop, Gumdrop, etc.) is a memorable prop. Henkes offers what he so often does in these longer works for children: a sense that experiences don’t have to be extraordinary to be important and dramatic. Billy’s slightly dreamy interior life isn’t filled with either angst or boisterous silliness—rather, the moments that appear in these stories are clarifying bits of the universal larger puzzle of growing up, changing and understanding the world. Small, precise black-and-white drawings punctuate and decorate the pages.

Sweetly low-key and totally accessible. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-226812-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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