Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

READ REVIEW

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection.

BICYCLING TO THE MOON

Can a cat and a dog be best friends? Purdy and Barker make it work.

The duo lives in a sky-blue house on top of a hill near their friends Henny Cluckington, Daisy Butterfield, and Connie Quackstrom, among others. Purdy’s a free spirit always in search of something new and coming up with schemes, while Barker is a no-nonsense pooch who enjoys the simple pleasures of gardening, working around the house, and doing nice things for his best friend. When Purdy decides he’s a great singer and practices—ear-splittingly—all day long, Barker, true friend, encourages him. When Purdy’s yowl at the talent contest scares away the audience, Barker, the contest judge, sticks it out (though he does not award his bestie the prize). When Barker’s prize tomato goes missing, Purdy’s thoughtlessness causes a great tomato fight…but they end up making delicious tomato sauce and having friends over for dinner. Through a year of adventures (and some disagreements), this unlikely pair remains the best of friends. Finn Parvela tells 20 stories in 20 chapters in wry, straightforward prose translated by Urbom. Complex characters, by turns witty and foolish, will charm readers and listeners alike; Talvitie’s smudgy-lined full-color illustrations complete the package.

A solid purchase for those seeking fresh tales with a classic feel or a broader world-lit collection. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-776570-31-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Well-crafted, accessible, and essential.

WE HAD TO BE BRAVE

ESCAPING THE NAZIS ON THE KINDERTRANSPORT

A vital collection of vignettes from the Kindertransport, the World War II rescue effort that brought about 10,000 child refugees from Nazi-controlled countries into Britain.

Years before the Nazis ramped up to genocide, the anti-Semitic laws of the Third Reich convinced some parents that their children were unsafe. Emigration, however, was quite difficult. Even for those prepared to move somewhere they didn’t speak the language, it was shockingly difficult to get a visa. England and the United States had strict immigration quotas. Nevertheless, refugee advocates and the British Home Office hatched a plan to bring child refugees into Britain and settle them with foster families. (A similar attempt in the U.S. died in Congress.) The voices of myriad Kindertransport survivors are used to tell of this harrowing time, recalling in oral histories and published and unpublished memoirs their prewar lives, the journey, their foster families. Sidebars provide more resources about the people in each section; it’s startlingly powerful to read a survivor’s story and then go to a YouTube video or BBC recording featuring that same survivor, speaking as an adult or recorded as a child more than 80 years ago. Historical context, personal stories, and letters are seamlessly integrated in this history of frightened refugee children in a new land and their brave parents’ making “the heart-wrenching decision” to send their children away with strangers to a foreign country.

Well-crafted, accessible, and essential. (timeline, glossary, resources, index, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-25572-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scholastic Focus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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An approachable lead-in that serves to fill in the background both for confirmed fans and readers new to the series.

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN BEGINNING

THE ALDENS OF FAIR MEADOW FARM

From the Boxcar Children Mysteries series

This prelude slips neatly into the classic series with a rural idyll that comes to a sudden, tragic end.

Spring brings not only fresh rounds of games and chores (“Chores are fun,” says Meg) for the four Alden children, but new friends too after the Clark family—fleeing frequently mentioned “hard times” in the city—arrives in a storm to stay until their car can be repaired. Indulging occasionally in foreshadowing and artfully incorporating details that will figure in later events, MacLachlan chronicles encounters and minor adventures on the farm in simple, straightforward language. The season changes, the children put on a summer circus, and the Clarks depart at last with a fond “[n]ot good-bye.” Then comes an offstage auto accident that orphans Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny and forces them to flee the farm even before the funeral lest they be separated. “The four lambs were on their way.” Interest in the classic Boxcar Children Mysteries remains strong, and this prequel should find eager readers.

An approachable lead-in that serves to fill in the background both for confirmed fans and readers new to the series. (finished illustrations, afterword and resource list not seen) (Historical fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6616-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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