Be prepared. Readers say farewell to Anna Hibiscus as tears “drop off the corners of her smile.” (Fiction. 5-9)

YOU'RE AMAZING, ANNA HIBISCUS

From the Anna Hibiscus series , Vol. 8

The importance of family during difficult times permeates the final book in the Anna Hibiscus series.

In the gentle, frank tone readers have come to expect, gifted storyteller Atinuke balances compassion and humor while tackling a sensitive subject, the death of Anna’s beloved grandfather. The first chapter sets the scene. Anna is back at home in the mixed-race family’s city compound with Anna’s twin little brothers, Double and Trouble, getting in all sorts of mischief—deleting pictures on Uncle Tunde’s cellphone but saving the day by climbing in a window when the doors are accidentally locked. Meanwhile, Grandfather is growing more and more tired. Family members take turns sitting with him, but Anna refuses, hoping that if she doesn’t think about “the really bad thing” it will not happen. “Then one day Grandfather did not wake up anymore.” Anna is grief-stricken. In the final two chapters Anna, tenderly supported by her loving extended family, all also grieving, each in their own way, learns to listen for Grandfather’s voice in her heart. The book ends with near-perfect modeling of shared grief and healing, as everyone tells their favorite grandfather story. Readers’ understanding of Anna’s genuine grief is amplified by Tobia’s grayscale sketches.

Be prepared. Readers say farewell to Anna Hibiscus as tears “drop off the corners of her smile.” (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61067-681-6

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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