Though the writing is clever and there are plenty of amusing incidents included, life lessons and existential truths...

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CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND

A MEMOIR BY JACQUES PAPIER

An imaginary friend who yearns to be real learns about life along with the children who conjure him up in a variety of guises.

Cuevas’ episodic story features childlike black-and-white drawings that contrast oddly with the decidedly adult tone of her main character’s musings. Jacques Papier is ostensibly 8 years old when he discovers that he is merely a figment of his “twin sister” Fleur’s imagination. When her parents take her to a psychiatrist, Jacques is stuck in the waiting room, where he meets Mr. Pitiful, Stinky Sock, and a variety of other oddball characters who invite him to the next meeting of Imaginaries Anonymous. With information gleaned there, he sets out on a series of new incarnations, from prisoner/co-conspirator/damsel in distress through perfect pet to best friend and magician’s assistant. New placements are made by the “reassignment office.” The description of this hilariously inefficient bureaucracy would make most adults chuckle knowingly, but it seems unlikely that young readers will get the joke. Between assignments, Jacques exists in a dark limbo, remembering bits and pieces of his previous lives and wondering about the nature of reality.

Though the writing is clever and there are plenty of amusing incidents included, life lessons and existential truths overwhelm everything, suggesting that the audience for this uneasy amalgam of whimsy and wisdom will be small. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-5254-2755-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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