Picking up his memoir where 26 Fairmount Avenue (1999), left off, dePaola presents a kindergartner’s-eye view of his new house, growing family, and increasingly busy life. He remembers what a child would remember: a new stove with niches for salt and pepper shakers at the back; losing the chance to play Peter Rabbit in a class play by talking out of turn (but stealing the show anyway with onstage clowning); anxiously hoping that his mother brings a girl home from the hospital—“I already had a brother, and who needs two of those!” Between a detailed floor plan and the closing full family portrait, he brings classmates, lovely parents, a hilariously forbidding grandmother who comes for an extended visit, and other relatives to life, both in his seemingly artless narrative and with relentlessly charming portraits and tableaux. Seldom either shy or down for long, he is or becomes a friend to everyone here, and like the unsympathetic teacher who relents after being presented with a magnificent homemade valentine, readers will find his buoyancy irresistible. (Autobiography. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23496-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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Envious of classmate and spelling-bee champ Jessica’s picture in the local paper, the irrepressible third grader introduced in Judy Moody (2000) tries for her own 15 minutes of fame. As she quickly discovers, it can be elusive. Like its predecessor, a disarming plot and likable characters are matched to an equally appealing format: small pages, generously spaced and sized type, die-cut windows in the dust jacket, and frequent ink-and-wash illustrations featuring smiles and high spots inside. In the end, Judy Moody earns her write-up inadvertently, after spiriting away a bagful of battered dolls from a hospital’s playroom, refurbishing them from her large private collection of loose doll parts—plus hospital gowns made from an old sheet and little casts of “oogey wet newspaper”—then returning them anonymously. “Phantom Doll Doctor Strikes County Hospital,” reads the headline. Only she, her affectionate nuclear family, and her likely-to-burgeon fan base know the truth. New chapter-book readers will enjoy watching Judy’s moods, and the ensuing complications, unfold. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0849-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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