Audiences seeking contemporary beginning chapter-book series are sure to find much appeal in Shai and Emmie’s world

SHAI & EMMIE STAR IN BREAK AN EGG!

From the Shai & Emmie series , Vol. 1

Debut author Wallis’ series opener, with co-author Ohlin, is a short and sweet early chapter book tackling themes of jealousy and empathy among classmates at Sweet Auburn School for the Performing Arts.

African-American Shai Williams aspires to being an actress just like Grandma Rosa and Aunt MacKenzie, aka Aunt Mac-N-Cheese. She has the mutual support of her best friend and fellow Sweet Auburn student, white Emmie. When it is announced that the third-grade musical will be Once on This Island, Shai wants nothing more than to follow in Aunt Mac-N-Cheese’s footsteps in the lead role, Ti Moune—but newly relocated SoCal transplant Gabby, also African-American, is cast in the role. When Gabby struggles, teachers ask Shai to help her out. Shai is less than eager to assist but heeds her parents’ sage advice to take “the high road.” All does not go perfectly, and Gabby does not become Shai’s new best friend by the time the play opens, but the hopeful ending is refreshingly realistic and hits the right notes. As Grandma Rosa reminds us “It takes courage to be nice to people who aren’t always nice to you.”

Audiences seeking contemporary beginning chapter-book series are sure to find much appeal in Shai and Emmie’s world . (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5882-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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