This family story feels like a modern classic.

READ REVIEW

CILLA LEE-JENKINS

THIS BOOK IS A CLASSIC

From the Cilla Lee-Jenkins series , Vol. 2

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

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Sweetly low-key and totally accessible.

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THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER

Billy Miller’s second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way.

Billy’s year begins with his worry over the lump on his head, a souvenir of a dramatic summer fall onto concrete: Will he be up to the challenges his new teacher promises in her letter to students? Quickly overshadowing that worry, however, is a diplomatic crisis over whether he has somehow offended Ms. Silver on the first day of school. Four sections—Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother—offer different and essential focal points for Billy’s life, allowing both him and readers to explore several varieties of creative endeavor, small adventures, and, especially, both challenges and successful problem-solving. The wonderfully self-possessed Sal, his 3-year-old sister, is to Billy much as Ramona is to Beezus, but without the same level of tension. Her pillowcase full of the plush yellow whales she calls the Drop Sisters (Raindrop, Gumdrop, etc.) is a memorable prop. Henkes offers what he so often does in these longer works for children: a sense that experiences don’t have to be extraordinary to be important and dramatic. Billy’s slightly dreamy interior life isn’t filled with either angst or boisterous silliness—rather, the moments that appear in these stories are clarifying bits of the universal larger puzzle of growing up, changing and understanding the world. Small, precise black-and-white drawings punctuate and decorate the pages.

Sweetly low-key and totally accessible. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-226812-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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