Budding language nerds or anyone who’s a sucker for a humble little love story won’t have trouble finding the right word for...

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THE BIG WORD FACTORY

There’s nary a word wasted in this love letter to the power and beauty of individual words.

In a “peculiar land” where people must “buy and swallow the words they want to speak,” a poor boy named Paul can’t afford to tell a girl named Marie that he loves her. Paul is up against a boy whose family’s wealth affords him the ability to use as many words as he likes. In the end, Paul’s mere three words—cherry, dust and chair—are enough to make Marie notice. The sweet and simple story, based on the traditional book Phileas’s Fortune (2010), is greatly enhanced by elegant animation and interaction. Deep reds highlight Marie and Paul’s story against the gray gloom of an industrial word factory that towers over their town. Words are cannily deployed as hidden extras. As the story opens, categories of words for sale, including “Obsolete Words” (dungarees, brume) and “Funny Words” (gewgaw, drizzle and of course, gobsmacked), float down as little slips of paper. The app otherwise brims with clever touches, such as a language game for sorting words into three available languages: English, German and French. There’s also a link to a six-minute video version of the story.

Budding language nerds or anyone who’s a sucker for a humble little love story won’t have trouble finding the right word for this app: “delightful.” (Requires iOS 6 and above.) (iPad storybook app. 5-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: mixtvision Digital

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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

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. 19, 2019

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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

A NOVEL IN CARTOONS

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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