An adorable story that teaches readers that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

STELLA ENDICOTT AND THE ANYTHING-IS-POSSIBLE POEM

From the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series , Vol. 5

On the first day of second grade, Stella Endicott meets her new teacher, Ms. Tamar Calliope Liliana, whom she wants very much to impress—and so does the annoying boy at the desk next to hers.

During the second week of school, Stella’s class is assigned to write a poem that includes a metaphor. After school, Stella visits her friend Mercy Watson the pig. She cuddles up close to Mercy on the couch and begins to write. Stella eagerly writes about Mercy, the sound of the neighbor’s accordion, and leaves that fall balletically from the tree outside. She is so excited about her poem that when know-it-all Horace Broom asks if he can read it, Stella doesn’t hesitate to share. Horace immediately begins to pick it apart, scornfully informing her, “Pigs don’t sit on couches, they live on farms.” Angry, Stella loudly defends her poem. The two argue, and Ms. Liliana sends them to see Mr. Tinwiddie, the principal. It is this sentence that forces Stella to act using “courage” and “curiosity,” resources she draws on to encourage Horace, who is so afraid by the expected dressing-down that he runs out of the office and into more trouble than either of them thought possible. The academic setting, imaginative Stella, and brown-noser Horace combine for an ideal opportunity for DiCamillo to exercise her characteristic wordplay. Stella is biracial (black/white), Ms. Liliana appears black, and Horace presents white.

An adorable story that teaches readers that things—and people—are not always what they seem. (Fiction. 6-9 )

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0180-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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