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From the Cilla Lee-Jenkins series , Vol. 2

This family story feels like a modern classic.

Nine-and-a-half-year-old budding author Cilla Lee-Jenkins returns with her newest work—a Classic, replete with Romance, Adventure, and Drama.

What with learning about Chinese wedding traditions in preparation for Auntie Eva’s wedding, trying to prevent a classmate from stealing her best friend, and helping her baby sister “find her destiny” (and learn to say “Cilla”), Cilla has no shortage of adventures for her second book. Some readers may already know Cilla from Tan’s first book, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire (2017), and her effusive, humorous narration immediately sets newcomers at ease (“And even though my mom said there wasn’t anything for me to do, I was a BIG help anyway”). Cilla’s blended family reflects the reality of many children; her experiences as a multiracial child navigating different traditions with her Chinese grandparents and white grandparents ring true. Cantonese speakers will especially enjoy Cilla’s ardent efforts to speak the language. The book may be a bit long for some who might otherwise enjoy Cilla’s escapades, making it a cozier choice for a family read-aloud or a more tenacious young reader. Wulfekotte’s intermittent pencil-sketch illustrations add lightness and humor—perhaps leaving readers wishing there were more of them.

This family story feels like a modern classic. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-553-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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