Eugenia’s need for routine and her intolerance of change and uncertainty will resonate with readers who experience life...

EUGENIA LINCOLN AND THE UNEXPECTED PACKAGE

From the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series , Vol. 4

Mercy Watson’s neighbors, the Lincoln Sisters of 52 Deckawoo Drive, return in their second adventure, and now it’s elder sister Eugenia’s turn in the spotlight.

Eugenia Lincoln is a sensible, no-nonsense, practical person. She does not have time for “poetry, geegaws, whoop-de-whoops, or frivolity,” and she definitely does not have time for oversize, unexpected packages. However, someone has sent Eugenia just that. It’s an accordion, and it has to go—she can’t think of anything more “frivolous, more geegaw-esque, more whoop-de-whoop-ish than an accordion.” The Blizzintrap Schmocker Company won’t take it back, so she makes a list of the choices before her: sell it, destroy it, or give it away. Can Eugenia be convinced to keep it—and that maybe there is music in her heart? Artwork shows what the text doesn’t: elderly Eugenia’s younger sister, “Baby,” is also an old white woman, and neighborhood kids Frank and Stella are black. The text is peppered with tough vocabulary for the more advanced independent readers in the intended age group, but the story also works well as a bedtime read-aloud for those not ready to tackle words and phrases such as “malevolent,” “obtuse,” or “diametrically opposed” on their own.

Eugenia’s need for routine and her intolerance of change and uncertainty will resonate with readers who experience life similarly. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7881-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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