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 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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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