Great for kids who want a pinch of magic in their slice-of-life stories.

DREAM BIRTHDAY

From the Krystal Ball series , Vol. 1

A spunky fourth-grade seer fears her upcoming birthday will be a disaster.

Krystal Ball, who “may look small” but is “really a medium,” has premonitions, especially predictive dreams. A hazy vision gives her a bad feeling about her upcoming birthday party, but it is too vague for her to interpret. And she has much practice in interpretation, as the majority of her psychic powers manifest through highly metaphorical, wild dreams—the first of which features spiked-haired, chain-wearing Martians later revealed to refer to punk fans of a band, Army of Ares, that Krystal and her family encounter on their way to visit her tarot card–wielding grandmother. Readers will enjoy trying to guess what the dreams mean. Finally, disaster strikes: Plumbing problems from the apartment above Krystal’s home cause part of her living room’s ceiling to collapse, and the damage can’t be fixed in time for it to host her party. Of course, everything turns out OK in the end but not until Krystal forgives her upstairs neighbor and has another dream. Krystal’s first-person voice is occasionally didactic, but it fits her personality well enough not to be intrusive. She walks a careful balance between being confident enough to embrace her own offbeat style and being concerned that others might think she’s weird.

Great for kids who want a pinch of magic in their slice-of-life stories. (horoscopes by Krystal Ball, Krystal’s fortune game) (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4795-3152-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character.

LOLA LEVINE IS NOT MEAN!

From the Lola Levine series , Vol. 1

Brown introduces a smart, young protagonist with a multicultural background in this series opener for chapter-book readers.

Second-grader Lola Levine is half-Peruvian and half-Jewish; she is a skilled soccer player, a persuasive writer, and aspires to own a cat in the near future should her parents concede. During a friendly recess soccer match, Lola, playing goalie, defends an incoming ball by coming out of her box and accidentally fouls a classmate. And so Lola acquires the rhyming nickname Mean Lola Levine. Through Lola’s first-person narration, readers see clearly how her savvy and creativity come from her family: Dad, who paints, Mom, who writes, and a fireball younger brother. She also wears her bicultural identity easily. In her narration, her letters to her friends, and dialogue, Lola easily inserts such words as diario, tía, bubbe, and shalom. For dinner, the family eats matzo ball soup, Peruvian chicken, and flan. Interspersed throughout the story are references to all-star soccer athletes, from Brazilian master Pelé to Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, and David Beckham. Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations are cheery and appealing, depicting a long-haired Caucasian father and dark-skinned, black-haired mother. Typefaces that emulate penmanship appropriately differ from character to character: Lola’s is small and clean, her mother’s is tall and slanted, while Juan’s, the injured classmate, is sloppy and lacks finesse.

Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-25836-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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