This family story feels like a modern classic.

CILLA LEE-JENKINS

THIS BOOK IS A CLASSIC

From the Cilla Lee-Jenkins series , Vol. 2

Nine-and-a-half-year-old budding author Cilla Lee-Jenkins returns with her newest work—a Classic, replete with Romance, Adventure, and Drama.

What with learning about Chinese wedding traditions in preparation for Auntie Eva’s wedding, trying to prevent a classmate from stealing her best friend, and helping her baby sister “find her destiny” (and learn to say “Cilla”), Cilla has no shortage of adventures for her second book. Some readers may already know Cilla from Tan’s first book, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire (2017), and her effusive, humorous narration immediately sets newcomers at ease (“And even though my mom said there wasn’t anything for me to do, I was a BIG help anyway”). Cilla’s blended family reflects the reality of many children; her experiences as a multiracial child navigating different traditions with her Chinese grandparents and white grandparents ring true. Cantonese speakers will especially enjoy Cilla’s ardent efforts to speak the language. The book may be a bit long for some who might otherwise enjoy Cilla’s escapades, making it a cozier choice for a family read-aloud or a more tenacious young reader. Wulfekotte’s intermittent pencil-sketch illustrations add lightness and humor—perhaps leaving readers wishing there were more of them.

This family story feels like a modern classic. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-553-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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