HORRIBLE HARRY AND THE DRAGON WAR

Discord has come to the familiar friends in Room 3B. Miss Mackle has assigned a research project about animals from children’s books. Song Lee and Harry both want to study dragons. They are allowed to work together, which usually is a good plan for these cooperative classmates. However, when Harry’s dragon is the fire-breathing one of Arthurian legend, and Song Lee’s is the good-luck dragon of Korean mythology, the war begins. Harry uses the “s” word (stupid) to describe Song Lee’s creation. Fighting words for sure. What follows is a three-hour standoff that ends up involving all the boys and girls in 3B. The situation, reported through the voice of classmate Doug, is real and believable. Song Lee’s reaction to Henry’s word will spark a moment of uncomfortable recognition for any grade-school child: she completely rebuffs any apologetic overture and holds her stubborn position for three full hours, an eternity in the close quarters of a classroom. Remkiewicz’s signature illustrations add life to the argument and its realistic solution. While such situations might seem trivial to the adult observer, Kline, a former schoolteacher, hits the nail on the head once again by telling a real classroom story. She allows the young protagonists to solve their problems the way they often do, with light adult intervention, good intentions, and gentle forgiveness. Kline and her publisher understand the needs of emergent readers and provide them with a large font, frequent illustrations, and a familiar story. This is another fine story for the reader who is just ready for chapter books. (Easy reader. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 20, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-03559-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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