A kids’ book with a fine message that’s obscured by uneven prose.


Quiz Kidz Thumbs Down Bullying

In this debut children’s book, two students at a special international school learn about bullying, friendship and understanding. 

Dakota the dinosaur is having a hard time at school—he’s being bullied by his classmate and former best friend, Harry the horse. Although his mother presses him to tell her what’s wrong, he doesn’t reveal that every day, on the bus to school, Harry mocks him mercilessly for no apparent reason. One day, Penelope the pig hears Harry teasing Dakota, and steps in, chiding Harry for his ruthlessly mean behavior. Dakota then becomes nervous: Should he hide in the bathroom to avoid Harry? Should he go to the nurse? When Dakota is late for class and Harry calls him out, their teacher, Ms. Hippo, speaks to them both. She inquires about their former friendship, and about the endless teasing. Eventually, Harry breaks down and reveals details about his own life that he says are causing him to bully others. By the end of the day, everyone has a fresh perspective on what it means to be a friend. Henry-Johnson and Johnson’s debut has an excellent message, urging children and adults to walk a mile in other people’s shoes before judging them. It also shows how it’s far better to talk about one’s problems with a grownup or trusted friend instead of taking them out on others. It’s an important moral, especially in today’s age of cyberbullying. However, the message is diluted by the book’s middling execution, including distracting grammatical errors throughout (“its seven thirty honey”; “Moms’ must have special powers”). The book’s language may also be a bit advanced for very young readers, although parents or older readers can help fill in the blanks. On a brighter note, Asevedo’s illustrations are fun and colorful, and help to break up the long paragraphs and keep readers interested.

A kids’ book with a fine message that’s obscured by uneven prose.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500991272

Page Count: 42

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2015

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.


A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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