PENINA LEVINE IS A HARD-BOILED EGG

Life for Penina is becoming more combative. Her bratty four-year-old sister, Mimsy, is continually tattling and getting Penina grounded for inappropriate behavior. Her teacher, Ms. Anderson, is threatening her with a zero when Penina, who is Jewish, has misgivings and refuses to complete a required assignment related to Easter. And best friend Zozo provides very little moral support, and is sure Ms. Anderson will “flunk” Penina for missing three days of school to attend the family Seders out of town. Unwilling to confront her parents, who are already angry with her, Penina confides her problems to Grandma while peeling hard-boiled eggs for the Seder. Grandma quietly intercedes to make sure Penina gets some adult support. Her parents intervene at school to clear up the misunderstanding between a first-year teacher’s misguided good intentions and a sensitive religious issue. Through it all, Penina’s resilience strengthens as her predicament becomes heated much the way an egg hardens as it cooks in hot water. Well-crafted multiple themes are integrated into a captivating, realistic middle-grade novel where conflicts are addressed, if not resolved, in pragmatic and convincing scenarios. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-59643-140-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Deborah Brodie/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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SEEDFOLKS

Using the multiple voices that made Bull Run (1995) so absorbing, Fleischman takes readers to a modern inner-city neighborhood and a different sort of battle, as bit by bit the handful of lima beans an immigrant child plants in an empty lot blossoms into a community garden, tended by a notably diverse group of local residents. It's not an easy victory: Toughened by the experience of putting her children through public school, Leona spends several days relentlessly bulling her way into government offices to get the lot's trash hauled away; others address the lack of readily available water, as well as problems with vandals and midnight dumpers; and though decades of waging peace on a small scale have made Sam an expert diplomat, he's unable to prevent racial and ethnic borders from forming. Still, the garden becomes a place where wounds heal, friendships form, and seeds of change are sown. Readers won't gain any great appreciation for the art and science of gardening from this, but they may come away understanding that people can work side by side despite vastly different motives, attitudes, skills, and cultural backgrounds. It's a worthy idea, accompanied by Pedersen's chapter-heading black-and-white portraits, providing advance information about the participants' races and, here and there, ages. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 11, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-027471-9

Page Count: 69

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1997

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