More Anna Hibiscus stories are certainly most welcome! (Fiction. 5-9)

WELCOME HOME, ANNA HIBISCUS

From the Anna Hibiscus series , Vol. 5

As the title indicates, Anna Hibiscus returns home to Africa from her visit with her Canadian family.

All eight volumes of the Anna Hibiscus chapter-book series are now available. Although each story stands alone, readers who approach them in order will have a rich experience indeed, and in fact for this volume it may be preferable. The first chapter of this fifth volume recaps her trip to Canada (Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!, 2011). It is only from context clues that readers learn that Anna has a Canadian grandmother as well as her African family. Transitioning readers unfamiliar with the earlier books and not alert to reading clues may find it confusing. Tiger Lily, a friend Anna met in Canada who is biracial, just like Anna herself, appears in the third chapter with almost no introduction. Snow White, Anna’s pet chicken, is hatched in the second chapter and becomes increasingly important in later volumes; here, she causes trouble by making messes while Anna is in school. Despite the African setting, these are sweet domestic stories North American readers will easily understand. Anna’s adventures and worries are small, recognizable, and happily resolved. This simplicity ensures success for new readers. The repetitive vocabulary (adults are repeatedly “cross, very cross” at Snow White’s antics) and simple sentence structure carry readers through the relatively lengthy chapters. Tobia’s expressive pencil drawings provide additional context and break up the text.

More Anna Hibiscus stories are certainly most welcome! (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61067-678-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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