A perennial message, “different strokes for different folks,” delivered with affection and tolerance, 21st-century style.

CODY AND THE MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE

Cody’s impatient for Spencer Pickett’s family to move in with his grandma, GG; as readers of the series’ first installment know, waiting isn’t Cody’s strong suit.

On the Picketts’ arrival, surprises ensue (Spencer plays the violin) as well as mysteries: GG’s duplex unit is full of Picketts (Spencer’s parents are launching a business), but apart from the name “Meen” on the mailbox, the adjacent unit looks empty. When ant-fancier Cody’s stung by a yellow jacket, Mr. Meen appears with a remedy—he’s an exterminator! Unlike their dad, the Meen girls aren’t friendly, and Molly forbids Cody and Spencer to play in the backyard. Cody tries to mentor Spencer, who’s younger, but the teacher she warned him about (the Spindle) likes him—Cody finds them listening to Mozart during recess. Cody’s classmate Pearl makes origami animals for Spencer and plays piano; soon they’re rehearsing for a concert. Do they like each other better than they like Cody? Are the Meen girls bullies or friend material? Her big brother is there for Cody, when not romantically preoccupied, but her restless, inventive mind and kind heart are her best resources. The African-American Picketts are middle-class, while, like the Meens, Cody’s family is more blue-collar (Dad drives a truck; Mom works in retail) and white. Asian-American Pearl, with her origami and music, hews rather too closely to stereotype. Understated illustrations subtly reinforce these diverse identities and bring the cozy world to life.

A perennial message, “different strokes for different folks,” delivered with affection and tolerance, 21st-century style. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5858-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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