Well-intentioned but not quite a home run.

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MY NEW TEAM

From the Little Rhino series , Vol. 1

Rhino loves everything about the game of baseball except the bully on his team.

Grandpa James practices with him every day after homework to help him hone his hitting and fielding skills. He imagines himself a hero in the major leagues, making spectacular plays and hitting huge home runs. He joins his first team in a beginners’ league, where he will learn how to be a team player in real games. The problem is that Dylan, an intimidating bully, is on the same team. Rhino must use his “thinker” to find a way to deal with Dylan. He receives support from Grandpa James, big brother C.J. and Coach Ray. He patiently defuses the situation, surprising Dylan with acceptance and a degree of kindness. Rhino is an endearing little boy who is eager to learn and improve and cheer on his friends’ accomplishments. Written by major league baseball player Howard and his wife, this is a detailed, insider’s account of baseball action. Clever use of italics to differentiate Rhino’s thoughts from his speech reinforces the reassuring message about coming to terms with bullying. But stilted syntax, especially in dialogue, and a side serving of distracting dinosaur information, along with mostly one-dimensional characterization, weaken the effect. The conclusion is saved from oversimplification by Rhino’s recognition that Dylan will be a teammate but not a friend.

Well-intentioned but not quite a home run. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-67491-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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