A fresh entry in what is overall an exceedingly enjoyable series; readers will cheer this latest.

ALVIN HO

ALLERGIC TO DEAD BODIES, FUNERALS, AND OTHER FATAL CIRCUMSTANCES

From the Alvin Ho series , Vol. 4

Nervous second-grader Alvin Ho digs deep to find the bravery to attend a funeral in this playful and poignant fourth offering in the series.

When Charlie, the best friend of his grandfather, dies, Alvin is desperate to console his gung-gung, volunteering to go to accompany him to the last rites without realizing he'll be in close proximity to a dead body. Once this occurs to him, however, he is terrified—his fear only compounded by his brother's concern that Charlie's death is a bad sign for their similarly aged grandfather. The formula that has worked so well in the earlier installments succeeds here again. Alvin's frenetic first-person voice as he puzzles it all out is engaging and real, often laugh-out-loud funny, and his family life is touching—sweet and frazzled and filled with endearing details like his father's use of Shakespearean curses when he's frustrated. Historical details of the Concord, Mass., setting abound, often comically portrayed due to Alvin’s tendency toward literalism. His eventual ability to contextualize and accept the death of someone he knew evolves naturally, and the madcap scenario that precedes it, exacerbated by Alvin’s anxiety-related inability to talk in school, is at once hilarious and heart-rending.

A fresh entry in what is overall an exceedingly enjoyable series; readers will cheer this latest. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86831-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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