ABSOLUTELY ALFIE AND THE PRINCESS WARS

From the Absolutely Alfie series , Vol. 4

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. 30, 2018

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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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