From the Wish List series , Vol. 2

The friendship fixes may be simplistic, but this book has an endearing lead.

Isabelle grapples with guilt and friendship as she works through Fairy Godmother Training, Level Two.

Isabelle’s in a funk because Nora has forgotten her, even though Isabelle broke the rules and left a stolen jar of magic-making sparkles for Nora to remember and contact her with. Level Two brings about massive changes, though: there’s a crackdown on saving excess sparkles (and sudden rationing), and Grandmomma is leaving the training center to investigate sparkle discrepancies and magical irregularities (Isabelle fears she’s responsible). Missing Nora, Isabelle attempts to befriend her classmates but is bullied and ostracized. Then, she gets her practice princess—Samantha, a former friend of Nora’s—and worries that Samantha’s happiness will come at the cost of Nora’s. Sure enough, Samantha isn’t a particularly pleasant girl, and both she and Nora dream of being in a big school play. Isabelle bends rules to help Nora out, until Samantha finally wishes for Nora to bungle her performance. Aronson neatly explores girl-on-girl nastiness in both faery-godmother school and human school, and the many quandaries Isabelle finds herself in make her easy to relate to. Details such as Grandmomma’s “fairy godmother bling” and the girlgoyles Isabelle likes to hide among make for fizzy magical worldbuilding. Racial descriptors are mostly avoided, and Isabelle, Nora, and Samantha all seem to be white; diversity is mostly cued with naming conventions.

The friendship fixes may be simplistic, but this book has an endearing lead. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-94159-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017


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


From the Bea Garcia series , Vol. 4

A funny and timely primer for budding activists.

Problems are afoot at Emily Dickinson Elementary School, and it’s up to Bea Garcia to gather the troops and fight.

Bea Garcia and her best friend, Judith Einstein, sit every day under the 250-year-old oak tree in their schoolyard and imagine a face in its trunk. They name it “Emily” after their favorite American poet. Bea loves to draw both real and imagined pictures of their favorite place—the squirrels in the tree, the branches that reach for the sky, the view from the canopy even though she’s never climbed that high. Until the day a problem boy does climb that high, pelting the kids with acorns and then getting stuck. Bert causes such a scene that the school board declares Emily a nuisance and decides to chop it down. Bea and Einstein rally their friends with environmental facts, poetry, and artwork to try to convince the adults in their lives to change their minds. Bea must enlist Bert if she wants her plan to succeed. Can she use her imagination and Bert’s love of monsters to get him in line? In Bea’s fourth outing, Zemke gently encourages her protagonist to grow from an artist into an activist. Her energy and passion spill from both her narration and her frequent cartoons, which humorously extend the text. Spanish-speaking Bea’s Latinx, Einstein and Bert present white, and their classmates are diverse.

A funny and timely primer for budding activists. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2941-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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