A simple lesson jazzed up by obstacles.


From the Jim Henson's Enchanted Sisters series , Vol. 2

The Seasonal Sparkles return in an adventure about friendship, fairness and jealousy.

Winter, the Sparkle responsible for causing winter in the human world, lives in her icy Sparkledom with her pet and best friend, Flurry the polar bear. While Winter and Flurry build a giant snow fort one day to impress her sisters, they discover a baby fox. Winter fawns over the cute fox, neglecting Flurry and sparking his jealousy. Hurt, he takes off—tunneling straight into the Barrens, the land inhabited by the villainous Bluster Tempest and his counterparts to the Sparkles, the Weeds boys. Accompanied by her sisters and the baby fox, Winter goes on a quest to get her best friend back. Along the way they face nasty surprises—booby traps left by the Weeds range from dangerous (giant mouse traps and Indiana Jones–style spikes triggered by sensors in the floor) to hilariously unpleasant (a smell so bad that Winter says “It’s like someone pooped in my nose!”). When they find Flurry, he’s less in need of rescue than they anticipated—the Weeds have adopted him and renamed him Butch. Worse, he might not even want to come home. Winter has to leave the decision up to him—the less-than-considerate nature of the Weeds along with Winter’s unconditional apology win the day.

A simple lesson jazzed up by obstacles. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61963-297-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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


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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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.


Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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