The lovable Díaz family has yet to disappoint.

STELLA DÍAZ DREAMS BIG

From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 3

Fourth grade is not for the faint of heart.

In Book 3 of the Stella Díaz series, Dominguez’s Ramona Quimby–esque heroine of Salvadoran and Mexican descent finds herself a tad overextended as she joins an art club, attempts to fulfill her presidential duties at the helm of the ocean-saving Sea Musketeers, and takes swim lessons with best friend Jenny. As if that weren’t enough, her mom is spending a suspicious amount of time with new neighbor Diego, and Stella is not sure how she feels about her mom having a maybe-boyfriend. Stella’s worry and exhaustion are palpable, but her enthusiasm for all of her hobbies is endearingly earnest. Middle-grade readers will get a taste of what’s to come when Stella and her older brother, Nick, compare extracurriculars as he begins to imagine applying to college. As with previous volumes, occasional Spanish words are presented in italics (a decision explained in the author’s note); they are typically accompanied by context clues or in-text translations, narrator Stella confiding to readers that she needs to work on her Spanish. Her overall vocabulary is robust, however, and she easily weaves in words such as guffaw, devious, and deduction that bolster her go-getter characterization. The Chicago setting and its vigorous Latinx community are well realized. The novel can easily be enjoyed without familiarity with previous books, and Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations give transitioning readers’ eyes places to rest.

The lovable Díaz family has yet to disappoint. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76308-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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