THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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Very young children deserve a better reason to get excited about our world than this bit of promotional fluff.

LATELY LILY

THE ADVENTURES OF A TRAVELLING GIRL

From the Lately Lily series

Lily, a cute freckled redhead with enormous eyes, flits through a number of unnamed countries with her stuffed zebra, Zeborah.

Ostensibly created to inculcate wanderlust in very young children, this character seems to be little more than an advertisement for the author/artist’s clothing company for little girls, called Lately Lily. Talk about cross-platform! Lily’s parents travel a lot for their jobs, and the lucky young lady gets to accompany them. Although the usual images (the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a red London double-decker bus) show up in the retro illustrations, there is very little text that provides any information—or storytelling, for that matter. In her favor, Lily is seen writing in her journal and sending letters to the friends that she meets along the way. Knowledgeable parents or other adults could use the pictures as a jumping-off point, but why bother introducing young readers to pictures of stereotypically dressed children and familiar monuments when there is no real content? Yes, it’s fun to visit other countries but not in the vacuous manner of Lily’s visits.

Very young children deserve a better reason to get excited about our world than this bit of promotional fluff. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: May 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1525-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

THE HANNAH CHRONICLES

THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH HADLEY, GIRL SPY: THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR

Hannah Hadley is a young special agent who must thwart a clear and present danger to the United States in Hoover’s “smart is cool” young adult novel.

Hannah Hadley might seem like most 13-year-old girls. She enjoys painting, playing with her MP3 player and spending time with friends. But that’s where the similarities end. Hadley doubles as Agent 10-1, among the youngest spies drafted into the CIA’s Div Y department. She’s joined in her missions by her 10-pound Shih Tzu, Kiwi (with whom she communicates telepathically), and her best friend Tommie Claire, a blind girl with heightened senses. When duty calls, the group sneaks to a hidden command center located under the floor of Hadley’s art studio. Her current mission, aptly named “Operation Farmer Jones,” takes her to a secluded farmhouse in Canada. There, al-Qaida terrorists have gathered the necessary ingredients for a particularly devastating nuclear warhead that they intend to fire into America. The villains are joined by the Mad Madam of Mayhem, a physicist for hire whom the terrorists force to complete the weapon of mass destruction. With Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series and the ongoing 39 Clues novellas, covert missions and secret plans are the plots of choice in much of today’s fiction for young readers, and references to the famed 007 stories abound in Hoover’s tale. But while the plot feels familiar, Hoover’s use of modern slang—albeit strained at times—and gadgets such as the iTouch appeal to today’s youth. Placing girls in adult situations has been a mainstay since Mildred Wirt Benson first introduced readers to Nancy Drew in The Secret of the Old Clock, but Hannah Hadley is like Nancy Drew on steroids. Both are athletic, score well in their studies and have a measure of popularity. Hadley, however, displays a genius-level intellect and near superhuman abilities in her efforts to roust the terrorists—handy skills for a young teen spy who just so happens to get the best grades in school.

A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0615419688

Page Count: 239

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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