A thoughtful and moving story of memory and change. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

DOUBLE HAPPINESS

In this gentle tale told in verse, Gracie and her brother, Jake, journey to their new home, all the while searching for special things to keep in their happiness boxes.

Gracie doesn’t want to leave Uncle Woo, Auntie Su, and her beloved San Francisco home to move across the country. To ease their pain, Nai Nai gives Gracie and Jake happiness boxes in which to gather memories. She tells them: “Find four treasures each, / leading from this home / to your new.” After goodbyes are exchanged and they set off, Gracie selects a stray eucalyptus leaf, a reminder of home, while Jake snatches a penny from the floor of the airport bus. The simple text gives off energy that is both reflective, as Gracie wonders about her new house, and joyful, as Jake finds a marble, filling his box first. Treasure choices reveal both siblings’ personalities and dreams that finally allow Gracie to feel at home. Double happiness, traditionally a wish for newlyweds in Chinese culture, expands to key moments here: for sister and brother, for two memory boxes, and step by step, for a former home to a new one. Rendered in delicate watercolors and brush strokes, Chau's illustrations and calligraphy evoke calm in the midst of Gracie’s anxieties and ethereal playfulness with Jake’s ever present mystical dragon.

A thoughtful and moving story of memory and change. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2918-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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