An engaging series opener about the power of truth to moor and free even the sulkiest of souls.


Third grader Harriet is convinced that she’s in for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad summer.

Her mother is having a difficult pregnancy, so Harriet is getting shipped off for the summer to stay with her grandmother who runs a bed-and-breakfast on Marble Island. She’s always loved short visits to the tranquil island with her parents, but spending two whole months there without them means change, and Harriet does not like change. She especially doesn’t like the idea of getting a new sibling. Fortunately, she’s got her beloved cat Matzo Ball to keep her company on Marble Island, and when she finds a beautiful old key in her grandmother’s shed, things start to pick up. Suddenly, there’s a mystery to be solved, one involving her dad’s childhood on the island and Miss Marble, the witty centenarian who is the island’s namesake. And when Harriet befriends a sharp-eyed ornithologist whom everyone calls Captain, she discovers that there’s as much to learn about herself as there is about the island’s history. A flawed but intriguing heroine from the start, Harriet’s stubbornness, hot temper, and habit of lying will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the titular character in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. Cranky, crotchety kids will find a kindred spirit in this young girl who longs to be understood and to understand the puzzling world of adults. Meanwhile, the mystery of the antique key yields a solution better than a secret garden. All major characters read as White.

An engaging series opener about the power of truth to moor and free even the sulkiest of souls. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-309204-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.


From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...


From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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