Filled with familiar Clementine charm but, more importantly, a whole lot of heart, too.


Clementine has had many not-so-good days. But this one just might be the worst.

She loses her favorite hat, her science project is ruined and the “family meeting!” sign is up on the refrigerator—that's never a good thing. Even though family meetings are supposed to be about family issues, Clementine usually ends up getting in trouble. But this one is different. Clementine’s dad announces that their family is going to grow. Are they are getting a gorilla, like Clementine has always wanted?! No. It’s a new baby. Clementine is N-O-T, not happy. They are a family of four. Four is a perfect number. In infallible Clementine reasoning: “Four can be two and two sometimes, and nobody is lonely. Two kids and two grown-ups. Two boys and two girls. There are four sides to the kitchen table, so we each get one.” Five just doesn’t work. Pennypacker tackles the oft-written new-baby theme from a refreshing, older perspective; jealousy is not the foremost emotion, it’s vulnerability. Everything is changing too fast. Clementine and her dad have always had a unique bond, but in this venture, he especially shines. He picks up on unspoken feelings and knows just how to give the right amount of comfort.

Filled with familiar Clementine charm but, more importantly, a whole lot of heart, too. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2356-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...


Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Full of heart and depth.


Billy Miller’s birthday wish, for “something exciting [to] happen,” attunes him to all kinds of excitement in his life.

Just after he blows out his candles, an ambulance roars down the street to the house of an elderly neighbor, and Billy later worries that his wish precipitated Mr. Tooley’s death. Billy is White, with a mother, father, and younger sister, Sal, whose singular personality dominates nearly everything around her. Sal’s plush whale Drop Sisters have been joined by a more portable quintet of whale-shaped erasers, the Drip Sisters. As with the moment when Billy thinks about how the air changes somewhere from summer warmth to cool on the steps to the basement, Henkes’ focus on small transitions in growing up and seeing the world acknowledges and celebrates the complex emotional life of childhood. Billy’s year of being 8 begins like a leaf unfolding, slow and steady, fed by the sunlight of loving parents and comfortable life. Twenty brief chapters chronicle the several days in which Billy misses the presence of his artist father, away at an art camp, inadvertently learns that his mother (and father) had a life before him, and helps his mother manage Sal. The sweet surprise of the summer (adult readers may recognize the clues), revealed when Papa returns, promises new and interesting chapters in Billy’s life.

Full of heart and depth. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304279-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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