A smart choice for teen readers.

NemeSIS

In Marshall’s first novel, a determined girl makes it through 10th grade despite her bully of a sister.

Lonely Nadine Stewart has a mouse for a friend and little else. Her parents have divorced, with her father settling in New York and taking a new girlfriend; her mother’s out of the house most of the time working on her real estate license. Her older sister, Rachel, is more or less her constant companion, and often an unwanted one. Her intense mood swings get in the way of Nadine’s desire to pull herself out of her misery and make friends, maybe even date. When Rachel feels bad, she makes sure Nadine feels worse—and she’s very inventive. Nadine is very good at keeping her cool: “It was all I could do not to react, but I had this whole routine going where I took cleansing breaths to stay calm. It’s like what you do when you meditate.” As she decides to start moving forward with her life, Nadine makes serious progress. She meets Anne, a transfer student with twin older brothers, and gets a spot on the field hockey team. All the while, though, she contends with the secret of Rachel’s bullying as well as with other bullies. When she finds the support and the strength to stand up to her sister, Nadine is surprised at just what happens. Marshall has written a rare book: a YA novel in which serious themes—divorce, isolation, mental health, bullying, etc.—are considered without admonishing readers or beating them over the head with lessons. Instead, readers progress through sophomore year with Nadine, sharing her daily discouragements and small triumphs. The recurrence of certain problems is only natural; they’re part of Nadine’s experience, after all. On top of that, Marshall accurately portrays the relative gravity of teenage crushes and friend-group drama—heavy considerations for the high school crowd.

A smart choice for teen readers.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Blue Moon

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2015

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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