Swings well enough to get struggling readers to first base—and perhaps beyond.

BEN & EMMA'S BIG HIT

A young child with reading difficulties discovers that he’s not alone…in more ways than one.

Newsom, current governor of California, calls on his own childhood experiences with dyslexia in describing how Ben, a White child, is good at baseball but struggles to link letters with sounds to make words. None of the other three children at Ben’s table seem to be having such trouble. Emma, a Black girl who’s also on Ben’s baseball team, is even poring over big chapter books already. At last Ben’s embarrassment culminates in a meltdown, which sparks a tearful admission from Emma that she’s just pretending to read and a rueful one from their reading teacher, an Asian woman named Ms. Kim, that, well, shehas never been able to hit a baseball. The children offer to coach her and then, having watched her swing again and again until she at last swats a dunker, come to understand that never giving up is the key to success. Thompson’s spacious and simple cartoon illustrations depict Ben’s other two tablemates with beige skin, and one of them wears a hijab. A lengthy personal note from the lead author offers further encouragement (for all that it’s addressed to readers more proficient than the likely audience), and a short list of print and web resources provides leads to more findings and strategies. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Swings well enough to get struggling readers to first base—and perhaps beyond. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20411-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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