Established and new fans alike will find much to love in this whimsical outing.

STARLA JEAN TAKES THE CAKE

From the Starla Jean series , Vol. 2

Starla Jean and her beloved chicken, Opal Egg, are back for a second escapade.

Starla Jean can’t want to make a cake for her baby sister’s first birthday party, but they’ve run out of eggs. Dad offers to get some from the store, but Starla Jean believes in Opal Egg’s ability to lay an egg in time. Proactive Starla Jean goes to work supporting her feathered friend with encouragement, exercise, and relaxation, but the nesting box remains disappointingly empty. Will Opal Egg lay an egg in time? And what if it’s not exactly the kind of egg Starla Jean had in mind? Following the structure of the first, much-lauded book, this story for transitional readers is told in four short chapters. Colorful illustrations on every page have a hipster aesthetic and are rendered in friendly colors and soft textures. Starla Jean’s bright, bold narration is printed in large, easy-to-read type bolstered by generous white space between and around words, sentences, and blocks of text. The intrigue of the mysterious meowing Starla Jean hears is somewhat muddled by the visual presence of Starla Jean’s own black cat; nevertheless, the story’s punchline is amusing and joyous. The book is equally charming as a stand-alone or follow-up to series opener Starla Jean (2021). Starla Jean’s family is depicted with light-brown or dark hair and pale skin. The new kid in the neighborhood is drawn with light-brown skin and dark-brown hair.

Established and new fans alike will find much to love in this whimsical outing. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30578-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

BAD KITTY GETS A PHONE (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

A craving for the latest tech leads to cat-astrophe in this new addition to the Bad Kitty series.

With her heart set on owning a cellphone, anthropomorphic house cat Kitty plows through three solid months of chores without complaining before her owners reluctantly grant her fervent wish. Then things go rapidly downhill. She becomes obsessed with violent mobile games, gets catfished (no pun intended), divulges too much personal information online, becomes consumed with rage at cyberbullies, and grows listless from excessive screen time. Only after the intervention of a Sphynx cat named Strange Kitty and a monthlong technology fast enforced by her owners does Kitty come to understand that while smartphones are fun, they can also be a serious distraction from real life and true friends. Using a digestible graphic-novel format, the book tackles internet safety and digital media literacy with purr-fect aplomb. The “Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts” section serves as a deep dive into the differences between facts and opinions, and many of Kitty’s quirky feline behaviors ring true. It’s unfortunate that the word lame—a disability-related term with negative connotations—is used by the internet trolls who deride the video Kitty makes and posts on “ViewTube.” Occasional misstep aside, Kitty’s tribulations provide ample fodder for this instructive and amusing tale.

A hilarious but enlightening guide to the online world—the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Graphic novel. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-74996-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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