Fast-paced fun. (Chapter book. 7-12)

HOOEY HIGGINS AND THE SHARK

From the Hooey Higgins series , Vol. 1

Best friends Hooey and Twig go to great lengths to raise money to buy a giant chocolate egg.

Mr. Danson wants to raise money to build a new shop window with his name etched into it, like a “true chocolatier.” Hooey and Twig just want his enormous oeuf en chocolat, which sports an equally oversized price tag. Being 8-year-olds, they are willing to take on the fundraising challenge, coming up with one plan after another. First, they try to catch a shark for the reward that they imagine will follow. While spilling ketchup to attract the shark, Hooey discovers a giant sea urchin and comes up with a plot to charge folks to see it. Things never go the way they are supposed to, of course, and the urchin proves to be more than the boys can handle. Over-the-top situations are matched perfectly with exaggerated black-and-white illustrations. Anything that skinny, spiky-haired Hooey doesn’t want to do will be embraced by big-eared Twig, including wearing a sandwich board and gluing straws in his hair to mimic a sea urchin. Mix in some underwear, a World War II sea mine and old guys wearing the Union Jack on their swim trunks, and you’ve got a romp that might just drag a few eyes away from the Wimpy Kid books.

Fast-paced fun. (Chapter book. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5782-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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90 MILES TO HAVANA

After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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