The full-page and spot illustrations are squiggly and vibrant and have more energy than the sentimental and slightly...

THE WEB

A well-intentioned but preachy chapter book about a girl, her failing great-grandmother and a spider.

Jenny loves to visit her great-grandmother, who is 89 and who likes to have Jenny call her “Violet-Anne,” as her beloved and long-departed husband Edward did. Jenny enjoys listening to Violet-Anne’s reminiscences, exploring her button box and playing with Edward’s toy soldiers. Violet-Anne likes to name her household wildlife: There’s Misty the opossum and Saffron the lizard, and soon Jenny discovers Sam, the seven-legged spider. Violet-Anne loves to see Sam’s webs, which remind her of her wedding veil and her diamonds. Jenny’s mother, however, comes regularly to clean Violet-Anne’s home and to convince her to move into a nursing home. Although Jenny does not love spiders, she loves how her great-grandmother responds to them with memories, and she not only tries to save Sam from her mother’s bug spray, but carries the spider to the nursing home when Violet-Anne is moved there. Violet-Anne dies after only a few days, separated from her memories, but Jenny manages, with hairspray and determination, to preserve the last web that Sam spun for Violet-Anne, complete with a tiny flower in its center.

The full-page and spot illustrations are squiggly and vibrant and have more energy than the sentimental and slightly simplistic story. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61067-087-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Funny and provocative.

TALLULAH THE TOOTH FAIRY CEO

A tooth-fairy mogul wrote the manual, but even the expert can be caught off guard.

Tallulah, CEO of Teeth Titans Inc., gives readers a sneak peek into her glamorous life. The wry narrative mimics the tone of many an inspirational biography, informing readers that Tallulah works hard to strike “a healthy balance between the three Ps: passion, purpose, and what pays.” From yoga to museum visits, Tallulah seems to have a full schedule, but she still makes time to hire and train tooth fairies for the entire world. Expert Tallulah has all the answers—or so she thinks until the night she gets a surprise from a little boy. Ballard has lost his tooth—literally—and leaves an explanatory note under his pillow in place of the missing item. This triggers an emergency board meeting that features remarkably realistic dialogue. Tom, a white man and the only board member who is not a woman of color, wears an #AllFairiesMatter T-shirt; his off-topic complaint about the lack of diversity makes an opening for important conversations with young readers. Tallulah is black and sports a voluminous purple Afro; Tom is the sole white character. Details in both Pizzoli’s text (Tallulah’s also the founder of the National Association for the Appreciation and Care of Primary Teeth, or NAACP-T) and Fabiani’s matte illustrations (a series of enormous, Warhol-like prints of Tallulah adorns her walls) will set adult readers chuckling.

Funny and provocative. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30919-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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