This entry in the chapter-book series Second Grade Friends tackles one bump in the friendship between Vinni and Emily. Their class has been studying pumpkins ad nauseum throughout the month, and their culminating project is to carve jack-o’-lantern self-portraits for next week’s Open House. But during the weekend before Open House is Emily’s birthday party, a hotly anticipated event that Vinni doesn’t attend, resulting in hurt feelings on both sides and a sadly damaged pumpkin. The narrative elides the actual party, two chapters on either side bookending the event. This technique allows for some fairly sophisticated storytelling, forcing readers to infer, through the dialogue of the other children and the characters’ actions, what happened to make Emily and Vinni so unhappy. Secondary characters, particularly the teacher whose enthusiasm for pumpkins is undiminished by his class’s impatience, emerge as distinct individuals. This cannot be said so definitively for the heroines, however, who lack the strong delineation of personality of Ivy Bean, for instance. If they are not sufficiently individuated, however, their emotions and reactions will ring true. Black-and-white ink washes provide a pleasing accompaniment. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7839-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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Funny, silly, and fairly empathetic—and perhaps even consoling to young, impulsive people who hope to be better (someday).


The portrait of a boy as a young rascal: Iggy doesn’t really mean to be “bad,” does he?

A narrator in an amusing direct address and somewhat adult voice serves as both apologist and somewhat bemused observer of three incidents recounted in 20 very short chapters. Iggy Frangi is 9 and in fourth grade. He likes his teacher and tolerates his family—mother, father, sisters Maribel (older) and Molly (younger). Like many people his age, Iggy doesn’t realize that something is wrong with what he is doing until either he is in the middle of doing it (and is reprimanded) or until it’s too late. Ricks’ cartoon illustrations portray Iggy and his family as white-presenting and his lively friends as slim boys with dark skin of various shades. In the first story Iggy defends his own honor and dignity with a strategy involving a skateboard, ladder, and trampoline in a way that only just avoids complete disaster. In the second, Iggy’s flair for going big gets slightly out of hand when he “los[es] his mind” in an incident involving shaving cream and lipstick. The third story involves his teacher and a minor injury and is an incident Iggy regrets “even years later.” Authorial asides combine with amusing cartoons (the universal strikethrough symbol is enlivened by repetitions of “nope” forming the outer circle) to enlist readers as co-conspirators.

Funny, silly, and fairly empathetic—and perhaps even consoling to young, impulsive people who hope to be better (someday). (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1330-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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By keeping the focus squarely on their child characters, Williams and Mohammed illuminate the plight of refugee children without preaching or pontificating. When aid workers deliver a shipment of clothes, both Lina and Ferozi claim a sandal. When Ferozi’s grandmother points out the foolishness of wearing only one shoe, the girl offers her sandal to Lina. Ten-year-old Lina makes the best of what could have been a difficult and disappointing situation and suggests a different solution: The girls will share the pair, each wearing them on alternating days. As the days pass, readers see their growing friendship and observe the harsh conditions of the camp. Earth tones predominate, reflecting the dusty environment while also offering, in some scenes, a sense of warmth. The story ends with the friends’ separation. Lina’s family has received permission to emigrate to the United States. The girls’ decision to split the sandals once more ensures that their friendship won’t be forgotten, and it seems likely that their story will linger in listeners’ minds as well. Touching and true to life. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5296-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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