Everyday magic fails to create a spark in this book

STOOP SALE TREASURE

From the Hand-me-Down Magic series , Vol. 1

Haydu introduces two young cousins in a new chapter-book series for young readers.

Del (short for Delfina) and Alma are cousins, best friends, and, as of moments ago, neighbors on 23rd Avenue. Alma and her family have moved away from their old lakeside home to the brick walk-up apartment building where Alma’s father’s side of the family lives in the city. On the ground level is the Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe, and on the second, third, and fourth floors are Abuelita, Titi, cousins, and more of their Puerto Rican family. When Abuelita takes the girls to a stoop sale, Del finds dangling clip-on earrings and is promptly convinced that they are magical. After a couple flawless, magical days (readers might call them just lucky), Alma is fed up with Del’s earrings and crushingly denies their magic. Convinced the earrings are causing them to fight, Alma decides to steal them and puts them out on the stoop for a passerby to take. Readers learn along the way that Alma feels “left out of” her own family, having lived apart from the rest of them for most of her life. They may well wonder why Alma’s family has moved, but the story focuses on the conflict between the cousins. Told in alternating third-person with minimal Spanish interspersed, the actual plot lacks luster, and the focus on mundane details slows the book’s pacing. Perhaps, with the scene now set, the series’ next volume will pick up. Uribe’s grayscale depictions are essential companions, depicting Del with dark skin and Alma as pale.

Everyday magic fails to create a spark in this book . (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287825-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

From the Food Group series

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more