FIGURE IT OUT, HENRI WELDON

Uplifting and amusing, this book will leave readers with valuable lessons.

A girl with a learning disability navigates the demands of her new school and family dynamics.

Henrietta “Henri” Weldon, a Black tween, is cautiously excited about starting seventh grade. It’d be helpful if her older sister, Kat, answered any of her probing questions about what to expect, but she’s acted strangely ever since Henri completed her math placement test. In the middle of a mentally taxing first day, the last thing Henri needed was to drop her change in the lunchroom, but it results in her meeting Vinnie Morgan and his multiracial group of foster home siblings. As they form friendships, Henri craves the bond that the Morgans possess; it contrasts with her own competitive, driven family. Kat warns her to stay away from the Morgans, however, seeing them as troublemakers. But Henri doesn’t have much time to worry about this, as she tries to stay on top of parental schoolwork expectations, playing soccer, and writing poetry. The story’s brisk pace and accessible vocabulary help readers quickly get to know Henri and the interesting supporting cast. Without sacrificing the story’s light tone, the author highlights the daily obstacles that Henri confronts due to her dyscalculia (which is never explicitly named in the text) and her longing for a tighter family unit. Skillfully realized, this is an affirming and inspiring tale for readers who are only ever told what they can’t accomplish.

Uplifting and amusing, this book will leave readers with valuable lessons. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-314357-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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