Like Polacco’s Thank You, Mr. Falker (1998) and others, an inspiring tale made all the more so by its roots in life.

MR. WAYNE'S MASTERPIECE

The terrible fear of speaking in public in front of others—no words will come out, no terror like it—is given passionate form in Polacco’s latest, based, as her books often are, on an event from her own life.

The Patricia of the story is the author herself as a girl, who loves to read and write but is reduced to quivering silence when asked even to read aloud. Her beloved English teacher sends her to the drama teacher, Mr. Wayne, where she takes refuge in painting scenery and listening to every word of dialogue and stage direction. Soon she is acting as prompter, as she holds the entire play in her head. When the girl playing the lead suddenly moves away without a word to anyone at the school, everyone knows only Patricia has all the words. Mr. Wayne gives Patricia the tools she needs on stage: breathe, move, “let the play take you.” And she does! The last page tells how Polacco’s Mr. Wayne helped her overcome her deep shyness, allowing her now to speak to many with joy and energy. Her usual pencil-and-marker–patterned dots, flowers and stripes adorn the exuberantly dramatized figures of teachers, students and heroine.

Like Polacco’s Thank You, Mr. Falker (1998) and others, an inspiring tale made all the more so by its roots in life. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16095-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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