ELLIS JOHNSON MIGHT BE FAMOUS

From the Cookies & Milk series , Vol. 2

A heartwarming story of resilience.

Ellis Johnson returns in this follow-up to Cookies & Milk (2022): This time he’s struggling to accept changes.

In this sequel by the son of the Famous Amos cookies founder, it’s time for Ellis to get serious—as his dad’s right-hand man at the cookie shop and as a harmonica player. The 12-year-old Black boy growing up in 1970s Hollywood plans to be famous someday. Ellis has a plan to show everyone just how serious he can be—and put family business Sunset Cookies on the map. It all begins with their highly anticipated appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. On the way to New York, Dad has an instant connection with the pilot, Capt. Samantha Golden, which annoys Ellis. And after disaster strikes during the parade, Ellis gives up on his blues music dreams. Life gets worse when he returns—his uncle Wishbone has taken over Ellis’ clubhouse, he has to share Dad with blond pilot Sam, and he can’t escape the humiliation of the parade incident. Ellis has plans, but how much is he willing to risk to get things back to how they were? Simple sentences, clear first-person narration, and a relaxed pace allow readers to immerse themselves in Ellis’ colorful world. The theme of change resonates throughout, reinforcing the idea that it’s normal to be anxious about it, but that shouldn’t stop you from pushing forward. Final art not seen.

A heartwarming story of resilience. (author’s note, recipe, how to play harmonica, playlist) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9780759556836

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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