A New Arrival

illus. by Anna Alter. 128p. (Sprout Street Neighbors: Bk. 2). ebook available. Knopf. Jan. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780385755627; lib. ed. $15.99. ISBN 9780385755634.
Gr 2–4—Six episodic chapters follow the residents of 24 Sprout Street as they welcome a new neighbor from Hawaii. Each neighbor relates a small adventure like sharing breakfast with a friend, voting on a new house paint color, or navigating snowy day grocery shopping. With small black-and-white illustrations on nearly every page, these sweet adventures are perfect for fans of Arnold Lobel's "Frog & Toad" series or Cynthia Rylant's "Poppleton" series who are ready for longer chapter books.
In this second installment, Mili moves into the all-animal apartment building. Violet worries that Mili might be a better artist than she is, but they soon form a mutual admiration society; Mili makes another friend after she helps Wilbur find his missing fortune-cookie fortune. Six brief chapters full of homey illustrations and realistic emotions follow Mili's adjustment to her new home.
Kids will identify with Mili’s and her neighbors’ problems: Violet is jealous of Mili’s artistic skills, for example; Henry is caught in a lie; and during a cold winter, Mili wishes she were back in Hawaii. Likewise, children may find the animals’ solutions inspirational: Mili mentions that she likes Violet’s art; Henry is relieved when he admits the truth; and Mili discovers a way to beat the winter blues. Characters are well developed, especially given the volume’s short length; each creature has distinctive defining traits. The pacing is perfect for newly independent readers. Each chapter can stand alone as a short story, but the book is also a cohesive whole. Charming artwork adds humor and whimsy to the narrative.

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