A pleasant twist on a sturdy franchise.

DIARY OF AN AWESOME FRIENDLY KID

ROWLEY JEFFERSON'S JOURNAL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

The wimpy kid’s best friend tells his side of the story.

After 13 volumes documenting events from Greg Heffley’s perspective, Rowley Jefferson takes a turn. The result is oddly refreshing: Greg’s unreliable narration gives readers plenty to chuckle at, but Rowley’s brutal honesty supplies fans of the series an unblinking look at their favorite protagonist. Greg’s jerk-y behavior that always lurked beneath the surface emerges fully here, coming dangerously close to ruining the character. Kinney uses this perspective shift to explore Greg’s behavior from the outside but through the eyes of his best friend, and that distinction is important. Rowley has cleareyed faith in his friend despite his father’s disapproval and nudges to make a better one. This faith is tested during a difficult sleepover and an exasperating study session but rewarded in the end. The Wimpy Kid books have never been heavy on plot, instead emphasizing character and gags. The gags in this volume are serviceable, but the character work is terrific. The fact that Kinney can expose new facets of his characters this deep into the series is a credit to the property. Underneath the marketing, the movies, the bookmarks, and the merchandise, the Wimpy Kid books are about a couple of pals figuring themselves out.

A pleasant twist on a sturdy franchise. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4027-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience.

STELLA DÍAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY

From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 1

Speaking up is hard when you’re shy, and it can be even harder if you’ve got two languages in your head.

Third-grader Estrella “Stella” Díaz, is a shy, Mexican-American girl who draws pictures and loves fish, and she lives in Chicago with her mother and older brother, Nick. Jenny, Stella’s best friend, isn’t in her class this year, and Stella feels lonely—especially when she sees that Vietnamese-American Jenny is making new friends. When a new student, Stanley Mason, arrives in her class, Stella introduces herself in Spanish to the white former Texan without realizing it and becomes embarrassed. Surely Stanley won’t want to befriend her after that—but he seems to anyway. Stella often confuses the pronunciation between English and Spanish sounds and takes speech classes. As an immigrant with a green card—a “legal alien,” according to her teacher—Stella feels that she doesn’t fully belong to either American culture or Mexican culture, and this is nicely reflected in her not being fully comfortable in either language, an experience familiar to many immigrant and first-generation children. This early-middle-grade book features italicized Spanish words and phrases with direct translations right after. There is a small subplot about bullying from Stella’s classmate, and readers will cheer as they see how, with the help of her friends and family, Stella overcomes her shyness and gives a presentation on Jacques Cousteau. Dominguez’s friendly black-and-white drawings grace most pages.

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-858-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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