CROW CALL

It’s a cold November morning, and Liz’s father has just returned from the war. Shyly she sits “next to the stranger who is [her] father” practicing his name under her breath, “Daddy. Daddy.” Together they drive to the Pennsylvania farmlands to hunt for the crows that destroy the crops, learning each other’s idiosyncrasies along the way; in journeying to save the harvest, they begin to cultivate their relationship anew. Beautifully written, the piece reads much like a traditional short story. Lowry’s narrative, dense with sensory details, is based on her own life’s events. Fittingly, Ibatoulline’s muted, earth-toned palette is reminiscent of vintage, faded photographs. At times, the characters in the photorealistic illustrations are floating in the uncanny valley, separated from their environment. But in other instances, the details of his renderings gracefully capture a moment in time that was lost. Relevant for families whose parents are returning from war, the text is also ripe for classroom discussion and for advanced readers. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-545-03035-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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STANLEY, FLAT AGAIN!

Flattened once more, this time not by a falling bulletin board but a double blow to his elusive “Osteal Balance Point”—or so says family GP Dr. Dan—Stanley Lambchop gets two more chances to play the hero before popping back into shape. First he becomes a human spinnaker in a sailboat race, then he worms his way through the wreckage of a collapsed building to rescue ever-rude classmate Emma Weeks. Alluding to previous episodes, Stanley complains, “Why me? Why am I always getting flat, or invisible, or something?” Mr. Lambchop replies, “But things often happen without there seeming to be a reason, and then something else happens, and suddenly the first thing seems to have had a purpose after all.” Perhaps—even if that purpose is just to tread water, as Brown does here. Still, with its cartoon illustrations, well-leaded text and general goofiness, this retread is as likely to draw transitional readers as the perennial favorite Flat Stanley (1964) and its sequels. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009551-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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