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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002


Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

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. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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