A lovely read in the Shu-Li series that provides diversity and celebrations of heritage for young readers.


From the Shu-Li series

Shu-Li and her classmates try to harness the magic of a neighbor’s pear tree to save their school.

It’s the end of summer vacation as Shu-Li heads to Mrs. Rossi’s house with her friend Tamara in tow. Shu-Li loves her volunteer work reading to the warmhearted Mrs. Rossi for her “Deed of the Week,” especially because the elderly woman has a beautiful garden and shares wonderful tales about magic pear trees. Back at school, misfortune arrives as Shu-Li is informed that her beloved neighborhood school may close and Tamara’s family may be forced to move away. When Shu-Li’s classmates play in Mrs. Rossi’s garden, a pear falls on Diego’s head as he wishes that his dog recovers from illness. When Diego’s dog makes a full recovery, the children begin to believe that Mrs. Rossi’s pear tree can make their wishes come true. Yee’s grasp of childhood delights and the diversity of characters and cultures are a winning combination. Shu-Li shares her Chinese culture with her class at a Vancouver school with a special Aboriginal program. Readers will also appreciate that the story is grounded in reality—the children begin to rely on their own resourceful problem-solving—as it deftly weaves in myth, fairy tales, and oral folklore. Wang’s inked illustrations are engaging and lovable, flowing beautifully with the story with restrained candor.

A lovely read in the Shu-Li series that provides diversity and celebrations of heritage for young readers. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-926890-15-9

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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


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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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.


Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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