The full-page and spot illustrations are squiggly and vibrant and have more energy than the sentimental and slightly...

THE WEB

A well-intentioned but preachy chapter book about a girl, her failing great-grandmother and a spider.

Jenny loves to visit her great-grandmother, who is 89 and who likes to have Jenny call her “Violet-Anne,” as her beloved and long-departed husband Edward did. Jenny enjoys listening to Violet-Anne’s reminiscences, exploring her button box and playing with Edward’s toy soldiers. Violet-Anne likes to name her household wildlife: There’s Misty the opossum and Saffron the lizard, and soon Jenny discovers Sam, the seven-legged spider. Violet-Anne loves to see Sam’s webs, which remind her of her wedding veil and her diamonds. Jenny’s mother, however, comes regularly to clean Violet-Anne’s home and to convince her to move into a nursing home. Although Jenny does not love spiders, she loves how her great-grandmother responds to them with memories, and she not only tries to save Sam from her mother’s bug spray, but carries the spider to the nursing home when Violet-Anne is moved there. Violet-Anne dies after only a few days, separated from her memories, but Jenny manages, with hairspray and determination, to preserve the last web that Sam spun for Violet-Anne, complete with a tiny flower in its center.

The full-page and spot illustrations are squiggly and vibrant and have more energy than the sentimental and slightly simplistic story. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61067-087-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent.

HORTON AND THE KWUGGERBUG AND MORE LOST STORIES

Published in magazines, never seen since / Now resurrected for pleasure intense / Versified episodes numbering four / Featuring Marco, and Horton and more!

All of the entries in this follow-up to The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011) involve a certain amount of sharp dealing. Horton carries a Kwuggerbug through crocodile-infested waters and up a steep mountain because “a deal is a deal”—and then is cheated out of his promised share of delicious Beezlenuts. Officer Pat heads off escalating, imagined disasters on Mulberry Street by clubbing a pesky gnat. Marco (originally met on that same Mulberry Street) concocts a baroque excuse for being late to school. In the closer, a smooth-talking Grinch (not the green sort) sells a gullible Hoobub a piece of string. In a lively introduction, uber-fan Charles D. Cohen (The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, 2002) provides publishing histories, places characters and settings in Seussian context, and offers insights into, for instance, the origin of “Grinch.” Along with predictably engaging wordplay—“He climbed. He grew dizzy. His ankles grew numb. / But he climbed and he climbed and he clum and he clum”—each tale features bright, crisply reproduced renditions of its original illustrations. Except for “The Hoobub and the Grinch,” which has been jammed into a single spread, the verses and pictures are laid out in spacious, visually appealing ways.

Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-38298-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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