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From the Cat Kid Comic Club series , Vol. 5

Controlled hilarity makes the concepts go down easy—another winner.

The members of the Cat Kid Comic Club learn how to win friends and influence people.

The story opens with the shocking news that “the Cat Kid Comic Club…is no more.” It will surprise none of the club’s loyal readers to learn that “weeks of bitter fights” among the club’s membership of 22 baby frog siblings have led their exasperated father, Flippy the fish, to dissolve the club as punishment. That hasn’t stopped the fighting, though, so Flippy reaches for Dale Carnegie’s self-help classic and gifts it to drama queen Naomi, telling her, “You’re a very smart kid…but your people skills could use some work!” As in previous volumes, Pilkey proffers a deceptively chaotic, devilishly clever exploration of his theme, here the power of influence, and presents the tricky concepts with profound respect for his audience. While Naomi experiments with compliments and gifts to achieve her ends, the froglets share some of their comics, including “I Am Dr. Frederic Wertham,” an entry in their series Irritating People Ruin the World, which is a parody of the Brad Meltzer–Christopher Eliopoulos series Ordinary People Change the World. This comic introduces readers to Wertham, the comic book–hating author of Seduction of the Innocent. A “Chubbs McSpiderbutt” comic presents the notion that “our viewpoints…influence our experience,” and the first drawing lesson after Flippy’s inevitable restoration of the club unpacks the psychology of cuteness in making us “Feel the Feels!!!

Controlled hilarity makes the concepts go down easy—another winner. (notes, fun facts) (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781338896503

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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