An enthusiastic romp with a friendly grade schooler, just right for those newly transitioning to chapter books.


From the Agatha Parrot series , Vol. 3

Agatha Parrot is back for another silly, almost plausible adventure.

When the heated box intended to house 13 new chicks at the Odd Street School breaks, Agatha, Martha, Ivy, and Bianca are each given a covered shoe box with chicks inside for them to babysit overnight. When Agatha gets home, her little sister accidentally releases her chicks. Back at school, when the girls get together to let the chicks play soccer, they discover that there are only 12. Agatha’s convinced she’s lost the 13th chicken and spends a scary, mayhem-filled time worrying, going through all sorts of troubles trying to find the missing baby. Could he, for instance, be the blob behind the new wallpaper? “PANIC PANIC!” Agatha’s breezy first-person voice is nothing short of exuberant, sometimes slightly tinged with just a tiny bit of good-humored sarcasm that rings very true, and each of her friends has enough different traits to come across as an individual, though the lack of racial markers will lead readers to believe that they are probably as white as Agatha. Hargis’ black-and-white illustrations are liberally sprinkled through pages that feature plenty of white space and just a couple of paragraphs of easy, inviting text. Two illustrations placed just before the story begins provide helpful background information for readers new to the series.

An enthusiastic romp with a friendly grade schooler, just right for those newly transitioning to chapter books. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-50909-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent.


Published in magazines, never seen since / Now resurrected for pleasure intense / Versified episodes numbering four / Featuring Marco, and Horton and more!

All of the entries in this follow-up to The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011) involve a certain amount of sharp dealing. Horton carries a Kwuggerbug through crocodile-infested waters and up a steep mountain because “a deal is a deal”—and then is cheated out of his promised share of delicious Beezlenuts. Officer Pat heads off escalating, imagined disasters on Mulberry Street by clubbing a pesky gnat. Marco (originally met on that same Mulberry Street) concocts a baroque excuse for being late to school. In the closer, a smooth-talking Grinch (not the green sort) sells a gullible Hoobub a piece of string. In a lively introduction, uber-fan Charles D. Cohen (The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, 2002) provides publishing histories, places characters and settings in Seussian context, and offers insights into, for instance, the origin of “Grinch.” Along with predictably engaging wordplay—“He climbed. He grew dizzy. His ankles grew numb. / But he climbed and he climbed and he clum and he clum”—each tale features bright, crisply reproduced renditions of its original illustrations. Except for “The Hoobub and the Grinch,” which has been jammed into a single spread, the verses and pictures are laid out in spacious, visually appealing ways.

Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-38298-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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