Helpful reading practice where needed.

THE BEST FRIEND PLAN

From the Adventures of Allie and Amy series , Vol. 1

Best friends Allie and Amy have plans for their summer, but when they are nearly separated, they have to zoom through their summer to-do list.

It’s the first day of summer vacation, and Amy and Allie can’t wait to get started on their short list of “Things To Do This Summer.” But they’ve only completed one item when Allie’s parents tell her that she got a spot at Camp Merry Moose. At first she is excited, but when she calls Amy, Amy tells her she can’t go because then they’ll be separated. Allie tries to back out of camp, but her parents won’t hear of it. So she devises a plan to bind herself to Amy, which, predictably, doesn’t last long. The best friends decide they will have to rush through their list. Using the alarms on their watches, they speed through their fun in time for Allie to pack for camp. Their farewell is too quick to take seriously, but it turns out they don’t have to separate after all. The large, generously spaced typeset is broken up by half-page black-and-white illustrations, and a word list gives pronunciations and definitions of less-common words. The story is more fast than fun, and it sacrifices realism and emotional resonance for speed. Still, it serves its narrow purpose of bridging the gap between beginning readers and chapter books. Allie and her family are black, Amy and her family are white, and an annoying-boy secondary character has a Spanish surname.

Helpful reading practice where needed. (reading questions) (Fiction. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5251-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Aladdin QUIX

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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