SUGAR PLUM BALLERINAS

PLUM FANTASTIC

When her ballet-nut mother decides to take her costume-designing business from Apple Creek, Ga., to Harlem, Alexandrea Petrakova Johnson (“The closest I’ve ever been to Russia is Atlanta”) finds herself moving from a sleepy little small-town dance studio to the illustrious Nutcracker Ballet School. Much to her chagrin, Al, arguably the poorest dancer in the class, manages to land the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the upcoming recital. In order not to ruin the recital and embarrass herself, Al has to conquer the following problems: her trouble remembering the steps, her tendency to lose control when she spins and her terrible stage fright. Luckily, and unsurprisingly, she finds a group of friends who help her overcome all of these obstacles with a lot of practice and some creative solutions. Other problems, including Al’s mother’s difficulty finding clients for her business and her tendency to live vicariously through Alexandrea, reach quick and forced resolutions. Ultimately, though, an endearing multiethnic cast of characters and a positive message of the power of friendship make this one a keeper. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4231-1173-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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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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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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