From the Sunny series , Vol. 2

A home-centered sequel to Sunny Side Up (2015), with incidents joyful and otherwise in a middle schooler’s life.

The tale is set in the 1976-77 school year and framed by references to TV shows of that era (both contemporaneous and reruns, including The Six Million Dollar Man, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island, with amusingly pithy show notes for each). The story unfolds in successive episodes of Sunny’s self-conceived The Sunny Show that confront her with domestic challenges ranging from little brother Teddy’s filled diaper (“Something Smells”) to the stormy holiday visit by formerly loving but now angry, troubled big brother Dale, come home from a military-style boarding school (“Six Million Dollar Boy”). Despite such low notes, though, the general trend is upbeat—with Gramps coming up from Florida for a visit, a sisterly, Indian-American teen neighbor named Neela Singh moving in next door (adding some diversity to the otherwise all-white main cast), and a heartening if long-distance thank-you from Dale for the pet rock Sunny gives him at Christmas being particular highlights. Using a combination of short exchanges of dialogue and frequent wordless reaction shots, the Holms again leverage simply drawn scenes colored by Pien into a loosely autobiographical narrative that is poignant and hilarious in turn and emotionally rich throughout.

Another radiant outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-74170-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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After Daniel’s experiences, readers will want to move there too.


The dull and seemingly ordinary neighborhood in which Daniel fetches up with his newly divorced mom turns out to be anything but.

Daniel’s first impressions of While-a-Way Lane aren’t good, as most of the neighbors are away for spring break, and he’s already in a dark, missing-his-dad mood. But then he spots his next-door neighbor, an older lady named Tilda Butter, apparently talking to the air. Had he looked a bit closer, he would have seen her actually in conversation with a small snake named Isadora. Tilda is very good at looking closer, and as her third-person chapters tend to be much longer than Daniel’s, it’s largely through her eyes and memories that readers will see the wonders of While-a-Way Lane, magical and otherwise, unfold. Wondrous things that happen to Daniel include an exciting encounter with squirrels in Tilda’s attic, landing a role as Lost Boy No. 8 in a school production of Peter Pan (his favorite book), and being followed home one evening by a cloud of fireflies. In Tilda’s view, everyone has a “gift” (hers happens to be talking to animals), and though on the surface Daniel remains rather unappealingly sullen and unobservant until near the end, he ultimately rewards her faith in a way that adds further buoyancy to the upbeat finish. Both Bean’s map and his chapter-head vignettes themselves reward closer looks. The cast defaults to white.

After Daniel’s experiences, readers will want to move there too. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-326-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A summer adventure that determined young readers may enjoy.


Tracy—gratingly—delights in calling her younger brother “Pig Face”; although she has a reasonably amicable relationship with him, she appears oblivious to the hurtful nature of her chronic name-calling.

But, surprisingly, since “Pig Face” comes up over and over, that is not the point of this overlong debut novel for early chapter-book readers. Tracy, 11, her best friend, Ralph, and her astute 9-year-old brother Lester, aka Pig Face, embark on the investigation of a mystery: why was a bag of money left in the detritus under the dugout bench of their small Canadian town’s ballpark? Slightly complicating their investigation is the presence of handsome visitor Zach, whom Tracy is developing a crush on and Ralph (perhaps partly because of that) dislikes. Tracy, Ralph, and Lester, all white, pursue their investigation in a kid-appropriate way, hiding the money and asking around, using a way-too-obvious approach that’s sure to spell trouble later—and it does. There are plenty of red herrings and an unexpected villain in this plot-driven adventure that eventually explores bullying but never, disappointingly, addresses the “pig face” problem. Tracy is a colorful character, dressing in vintage clothing and not ashamed of her intelligence, and Lester is amusingly wise for his years, their well-rounded characters adding authenticity. 

A summer adventure that determined young readers may enjoy. (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0621-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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