A playful, comic romp of a book for new readers.

BRUNO & LULU'S PLAYGROUND ADVENTURES

All the playground’s a stage for these two pals.

A metafictive introduction to this title finds chipmunk Lulu and red squirrel Bruno breaking the fourth wall to introduce themselves to readers by revealing their respective attributes. Lulu’s imaginative strengths end up being central to both of the ensuing stories—the first about coveting cake and the second about making the best of a timeout punishment. Although he is decidedly less whimsical than his friend, Bruno patiently indulges Lulu’s flights of fancy in both chapters, and Lulu also comes across as the “good friend” she declares herself to be in the introduction as she dreams up play scenarios. The text is delivered almost entirely in color-coded speech-balloon dialogue between the friends (yellow for Lulu to match her hair bow and blue for Bruno to match his glasses). This supports the cartoonish quality of the humorous, digitally rendered art, but some pages end up looking rather cluttered with a surfeit of balloons. The final two pages incorporate the text in the illustrations, presenting the words “THE END” in pebbles in the sandbox, but Bruno intercedes to scratch the word “NOT” above them, suggesting that more squirrely adventures await the friends in future stories.

A playful, comic romp of a book for new readers. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3553-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. .

THE CONTRACT

For his eponymous imprint, the New York Yankees star leads off with a self-referential tale of Little League triumphs.

In the first of a projected 10 episodes based on the same number of “Life Lessons” espoused by the lead author’s Turn 2 Foundation, third-grader Derek turns in an essay announcing that his dream is to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (No. 1 on the Turn 2 list: “Set your goals high”). His parents take him seriously enough not only to present him with a “contract” that promises rewards for behaviors like working hard and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but also to put a flea in the ear of his teacher after she gives him a B-minus on the essay for being unrealistic. Derek then goes on to pull up his math grade. He also proceeds to pull off brilliant plays for his new Little League team despite finding himself stuck at second base while the coach’s son makes multiple bad decisions at shortstop and, worse, publicly puts down other team members. Jeter serves as his own best example of the chosen theme’s theoretical validity, but as he never acknowledges that making the majors (in any sport) requires uncommon physical talent as well as ambition and determination, this values-driven pitch is well out of the strike zone.

Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. . (foundation ad and curriculum guide, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2312-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Jeter/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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