As droll as a Britcom and as true to the spirit of family life as the all-American Quimbys, this import introduces the Quigleys: siblings Lucy and Will and their slightly feckless but loving parents. Each of four episodic chapters focuses on one family member. In one, Dad accepts a babysitting assignment from neighbors even though it conflicts with his desire to watch a thrilling football game on television, and as a consequence he loses one of his charges. In another, Lucy insists that she will wear a bee costume instead of a bridesmaid’s dress in a wedding. “All the Quigleys could be a little stubborn,” but her parents have no idea just how stubborn Lucy can be. In the third, Mum’s birthday is ruined when Dad’s train is delayed and she must miss the ballet. The children manage to salvage the occasion by making her a party involving a ballet of their own creation, toast with chocolate spread, a variety of alcoholic beverages found in the back of the cupboard, and finally a madcap entrance by Dad with roses between his teeth. This chapter, while it may not find its way into school reading anthologies, is laugh-out-loud funny. The concluding chapter describes Will’s campaign to receive a Harpy Eagle for Christmas despite the family’s “no pets” rule. This includes the dropping of pointed hints, “ . . . a way to get what you want without bother,” which proves to be very hard work. The deadpan humor is applied to small but universal dramas of everyday family life, which are reinforced by a pattern of sly repetitions that develop the characters and situations to comic effect. Read either aloud or independently, this is a family story to be shared, the characters not soon forgotten. Plentiful line drawings extend the fun. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 14, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-75006-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.


From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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