Mercy Watson fans will flock to this whimsical new series for developing readers.

STARLA JEAN

WHICH CAME FIRST: THE CHICKEN OR THE FRIENDSHIP?

From the Starla Jean series , Vol. 1

A girl and a rescued chicken become best friends in a new series for developing readers.

When Starla Jean finds a skinny, bug-eyed chicken at the park, her dad promises her if she can catch it, she can keep it. To her father’s dismayed surprise, Starla Jean does indeed catch the chicken, immediately naming her Opal Egg. The more she learns about Opal Egg, the more Starla Jean wants to keep her, but what if the chicken belongs to someone else? This series starter features Starla Jean’s exuberant first-person narration, liberally punctuated with dialogue with her family and neighbors. Readers transitioning to early chapter books will appreciate the four short chapters and the limited amount of text per page, wide margins, and ample space between lines of text. Occasionally, the white space around the text is humorously interrupted by bold, red chicken sound effects. Soft, textured cartoons in muted colors further the comedic storytelling and provide readers natural places to rest their eyes. Present on every double-page spread, illustrations range in size from small pictures set within the text to expansive illustrations taking up most or all of a spread. The setting is quaint, a rural town with picturesque stone bridges and old-fashioned houses. Starla Jean’s family is depicted with light-brown or dark hair and pale skin. Elderly neighbors are depicted with pale or light tan skin and white hair.

Mercy Watson fans will flock to this whimsical new series for developing readers. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30576-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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