ABSOLUTELY ALFIE AND THE PRINCESS WARS

From the Absolutely Alfie series , Vol. 4

Charming and sweet.

It is almost Halloween in Oak Glen, California, and 7-year-old Alfleta “Alfie” Jakes and her 11-year-old brother, EllRay, are deciding what costumes to wear.

Oak Glen Primary School is having a Halloween parade, and both siblings want to look great. Alfie is not quite sure about hers yet, but no matter what she chooses, she wants to “fit in” after some interactions that have left her feeling out of place. At a sleepover, a friend opines that farmers market vegetables are “dirty” even though Mrs. Jakes shops there, and on “Cute Barrette Day” Alfie feels different because her hair isn’t “floppy and loose.” When new girl Bella Babcock invites Alfie over to play, she suggests their being bunnies together. It’s perfect! But when Alfie hears the other second-grade girls in Mr. Havens’ class share what costumes they think are best, she begins to doubt herself. Soon the titular princess war breaks out. Mr. Havens calls a meeting to settle it, and Alfie suggests that all the girls could be princesses. Everyone seems to like this idea except Bella, who still wants to be a bunny. What to do? This fourth addition to the Absolutely Alfie series presents a stressful scenario readers will recognize, and they’ll appreciate seeing how Alfie manages this social conundrum with the loving support of her African-American family. Malone’s spot illustrations reinforce Warner’s descriptions of a class in which Alfie and another black girl are the “only two girls with brown skin” in their friend group, who mostly present white except for one girl with Asian features.

Charming and sweet. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-99995-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

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

ZARA'S RULES FOR RECORD-BREAKING FUN

From the Zara's Rules series , Vol. 1

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel.

A 10 ¾-year-old girl weathers changes in her social circle—and her sense of self.

Dubbed “Queen of the Neighborhood” by beloved neighbor Mr. Chapman, who has sadly left Maryland for balmy Florida, Zara is apprehensive when a family with two kids moves into his house, potentially upsetting the delicate social balance. Readers familiar with Khan’s Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream books, set a few years after this series opener, will recognize the bustling Pakistani American Muslim household. Assertive, organized Zara and rambunctious 7-year-old Zayd live with their Mama and Baba; the siblings’ grandparents and uncle are integral parts of their daily lives. Zara and Zayd enjoy playing outside with their friends—Black sisters Jade and Gloria, White Alan, and Chinese American Melvin. Mr. Chapman always said that Zara knew how to “rule with grace and fairness,” but new arrivals Naomi and Michael, Jewish kids who are eager to engage socially, put this to the test. When Jamal Mamoo, Mama’s brother, brings over his Guinness World Records book, Zara decides that becoming a world-record holder is the boost her social status needs. Her humorous (and futile) attempts to make her mark ultimately lead her to being a more patient and understanding big sister and more flexible and supportive companion to friends old and new. Strong pacing, fluid prose, engaging hijinks, and heartwarming scenes of family life and outdoor play are complemented by expressive illustrations.

A charming contemporary story with a classic feel. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9759-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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