CLEO EDISON OLIVER IN PERSUASION POWER

From the Cleo Edison Oliver series , Vol. 2

Cleo’s an engaging, effervescent original whose story unfolds with humor and insight, probing weighty issues with a light...

In her latest business venture (creating personalized barrettes), the pint-size entrepreneur harnesses the power of social networking, fifth-grade style.

Cleo’s a one-girl idea factory, but she’s severely challenged in the sustained-attention department. What doesn’t engage her (homework) gets overlooked. It’s up to Caylee, her loyal sidekick and highly organized Latina BFF (a mini Marie Kondo), to oversee production of their Passion ClipsTM (“Tell the World Who You Are!!!”). Her loving adoptive parents keep Cleo on track in a lively household that includes two rambunctious little brothers, the family dog, five mealworms, and a rogue mouse. Cleo’s a huge fan of Fortune A. Davies, an African-American like Cleo, who hosts a daily talk show. Her upbeat message of ethical empowerment resonates with Cleo. When Fortune invites “kidpreneurs” to promote their businesses on TV, Cleo enlists Caylee and satisfied customers to help, leading her to discover the difference between directing and dictating. She’s relinquished the fantasy that Fortune’s her birth mother, but sometimes Cleo imagines having a family that’s exclusively black and not a patchwork quilt of skin colors, and she longs for answers about the stranger who’s her mother. An opportunity to connect with her birth family feels thrilling—scary, too. No worries—courage is Cleo’s strong suit. Frazier sensitively addresses these potential land mines with intelligence and sensitivity.

Cleo’s an engaging, effervescent original whose story unfolds with humor and insight, probing weighty issues with a light touch. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-82239-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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