Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises.

READ REVIEW

THE SUPER-SPOOKY FRIGHT NIGHT!

From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 1

Shades of Bewitched, the old TV show featuring a witch married to a regular guy.

This new chapter-book series stars Pandora, a white girl with two grandmas—the good witch, Granny Crow, in a patterned minidress, whose magical powers enliven any party or school outing, and Granny Podmore, in her cardigan and plaid skirt, a kind but stereotypical grandmother who cleans and cooks. Pandora’s friends include Nellie, a black girl, and Nellie’s mom is also depicted as black in the exuberant line drawings with gray washes. The three chapterlong adventures are rather tame, meant for readers who want fun rather than fright. In “The Super-Spooky Fright Night!” (all titles have exclamation points), the two grandmothers host a Halloween party. Granny Crow creates “bat-shaped cookies that hung around the bowls, and a custard cat (that actually meowed!).” Granny Podmore makes “the neatest swans” from napkins. Granny Crow conjures up musical broomsticks when Granny Podmore wants to introduce musical chairs. The evening ends happily when Granny Podmore uses Ollie, her vacuum cleaner, to suck up little pumpkins from Granny Crow’s pumpkin pop gone wild. Only Granny Crow appears in the other stories, making teddy bears come alive to give a “teddy bears’ picnic!” and causing a nasty teacher to accidentally cast a spell that turns a school swimming lesson into utter chaos.

Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8653-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A deceptively simple, warmhearted tale, particularly apt for chapter-book readers with similar experiences or an interest in...

TWO FOR JOY

When feisty great-aunt Britannia falls and hurts herself for the fourth time in two years, 8-year-old Jenna and her mom, a nurse, invite “Tannie” to come and live with them.

But the strong-willed, widowed Tannie, an avid birder who once could fly an airplane and ride a motorcycle, isn’t quite ready to give up her Mississippi farm and move in with her beloved relatives in Virginia. Eventually Tannie relents. Although Jenna appreciates having her great-aunt’s inspiring spirit nearby, soon Tannie’s needs cut into the maternal attentiveness Jenna has come to expect. Learning to accept change and to ask for help become challenges for all of the characters, as transitioning into an intergenerational threesome is presented as an ongoing process. Amateau’s experiences with caregiving and her work in the world of aging and disability services inform this mildly generic, timeless story. Refreshing aspects include an adventurous older female character striving to remain vital and the mutually respectful relationship between Jenna and her mother, who is the primary parent after divorce.

A deceptively simple, warmhearted tale, particularly apt for chapter-book readers with similar experiences or an interest in multigenerational stories. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3010-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Welcome back, Annie and Simon

BANANA MUFFINS AND OTHER STORIES

From the Annie and Simon series

A glimpse at sibling love in a book for newly independent readers, the third Annie and Simon book.

It’s rare to see teenagers depicted in books for young readers, but O’Neill’s series fills this void with its depiction of little sister Annie and her “big, big brother,” Simon, both of whom are white. The three slice-of-life stories that make up the book are focused on their interactions, with Simon acting as both a caregiver and companion. Their dynamic isn’t totally smooth, which keeps it feeling realistic and not nearly as sweet as the chocolate chips that Annie sneaks into the titular banana muffins they bake. They also show camaraderie and cooperation when caring for their neighbor’s baby, Theo (illustrations depict him and his father as black), and when rescuing their dog from a close call with a porcupine. These are quiet stories, with gentle humor infused in the dialogue and muted watercolor illustrations that overemphasize Simon’s gangly frame. The vocabulary and length of the text will place it out of reach for emergent readers in need of more robust verbal controls. Readers on the precipice of transitioning to chapter books will find this good preparation.

Welcome back, Annie and Simon . (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7498-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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