ANGUS ALL AGLOW

Find the sparkle in your life.

Angus loves all things shiny, sparkly, and attention-grabbing. This isn’t limited to his apparel; he loves anything that has some extra razzle-dazzle: jewels, nature, and words. To Angus, sparkle is akin to an extra burst for the senses. Angus’ “sapphire-studded scissors sizzle,” and the stars above “crackle like a campfire.” Angus’ favorite bit of bling is his grandmother’s necklace—five strands of multicolored glass beads that seem to pop. When she gives him the necklace, Angus wants to show it off to his friends at school. Undeterred by his family’s mild protests, Angus wears the necklace and is immediately mocked. A kind classmate named Melody eventually helps Angus rediscover the beauty of bling by reconstructing the necklace into two friendship bracelets. Smith’s story accomplishes some great things: It introduces readers to new reach-word vocabulary, and Angus’ love of sparkle isn’t tied directly to sexuality or gender identity, allowing it to reach the heterosexual cis boys who love a little glitz and glimmer. The message stumbles slightly because Angus’ emotional well-being lives and dies by the opinions of others; he never finds the strength to trust his own beliefs. Carter’s cartoonish illustrations, a combination of watercolor, gouache, and pencil, are muted, and the vibrancy described in the story is not relayed via the images. They depict Angus as biracial (his dad has brown skin, and his mom is white) and Melody as black.

Not a must-have. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1493-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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 plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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