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From the Frankie D, Vegan Vampire series

For kids hungry for a wholesome vampire story without the gore.

A young vampire experiences unique challenges after he and his family relocate from Transylvania to the U.S.

Though Frankie’s extended family disapproves of the move, his parents want their children to grow up in a land “where the sun is generous with its rays.” So they shorten their last name (Draculore) to D, Frankie gets his fangs filed down at the orthodontist’s, and they attempt to hide their vampire superpowers. But how will they manage their thirst for human blood? Eating a healthy vegan diet will eliminate their need to bite people, though it’s not quite clear how avocados and lentils are satisfying replacements for blood. Still, chances to inadvertently reveal their secret identities abound, from Frankie’s parents’ awkward introductions to the death-defying gymnastics of his 3-year-old twin brothers, Thunder and Bolt. Thankfully, good-natured Frankie quickly makes friends, but not everyone is so nice. Will Frankie be able to control his super-strength and keep his identity hidden when confronted with the school bully? Readers new to chapter books will appreciate the simple sentence structure, likable protagonist, and straightforward plot but may not understand all the subtle humor and communication foibles. Digitally rendered black-and-white illustrations and lists break up the short chapters. The main characters are illustrated with gray-tinged skin, while names and images of other classmates imply racial diversity.

For kids hungry for a wholesome vampire story without the gore. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781525304606

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

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. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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