Heidi Heckelbeck may have a secret, but in the end it is too little, too late.



From the Heidi Heckelbeck series , Vol. 1

Homeschooled Heidi Heckelbeck is about to be a brand-new second grader at Brewster Elementary, and she is none too happy about it.

She would much prefer to continue learning at home with her younger brother Henry, where she doesn’t have to worry about whom she will sit next to at lunch or how she will find her way to the bathroom. Once at school, Heidi meets two girls. Lucy has a “warm fuzzy smile” and invites Heidi to play with her at recess, but Melanie says Heidi is smelly and scribbles on her picture during art. Though Burris’ line drawings add a nice layer of whimsy, for most of the book, Heidi seems to be just another ordinary kid dealing with the same humdrum, starting-a-new-school issues as countless other ordinary kids in countless other books. Though there are hints at what Heidi’s “secret” might be—she has her own special book, and instead of wearing “friendly” colors like pink, Heidi opts for outfits that, according to Henry, look like Halloween costumes—they are too subtle and sporadic to convincingly plant the seed that there is more to Heidi than meets the eye, leaving readers to wait for the big reveal at the end and then continue on with the series.

Heidi Heckelbeck may have a secret, but in the end it is too little, too late.    (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4087-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.


This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale.


From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 2

Bub the anxious pug tackles snow days and new neighbors in his second outing.

Bub, acclaimed by some as “the cutest pug on the planet,” at first shares the enthusiasm owner Bella expresses about snow days even though he doesn’t know what they are. Then Duchess the cat (mildly antagonistic, in typical feline fashion) rains on Bub’s parade by pointing out that snow is water—and Bub’s no fan of rain or baths. After a comedic and disastrous first attempt, Bub learns how to properly dress for snow and enjoy it. The outdoor fun’s cut short by mysterious noises coming from the new neighbor, which frighten Bella into thinking there’s a monster. Bub puts on a Sherlock Holmes get-up to investigate but becomes afraid himself of the new neighbor’s large dog. Finally, Bella meets Jack, who’s been working on a tree fort, and his dog, Luna, who is enthusiastically friendly. The story ends on a positive note, as they all happily work together on the fort. The full-color cartoon illustrations, especially of Bub, are adorably expressive and certain to please the age group. The generous font and format—short, diary-entry paragraphs and speech-bubble conversations—create a quick pace. Bub’s stylized emoji bubbles return and are most hilarious when used to express his nervous flatulence. Bella and Jack both present white.

A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53006-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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