An entertaining fantasy with a quirky, inventive storyline that shows how things invariably turn out badly for bullies.

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer

A lonely boy learns how to stand up against a cast of mean bullies in Fynn’s debut middle-grade novel.

Iggy Rose is living a life of hell at the Naysayer Academy. In a school where only bad children survive, not only are the children bullying him, but the headmistress is giving him a hard time, too. Poor Iggy is thrown down a garbage chute by the spiteful Teddy, where, unbeknown to his persecutors, he’s rescued by a mysterious man who insists that the young boy is a long-lost prince who must now stand up and reclaim his kingdom. That’s not going to be easy given that Iggy isn’t convinced he’s a prince and the King of Naysayer has stolen a magic ring from his finger. There’s plenty of knockabout farce to enjoy with Iggy’s new friends: a professor who’s losing his mind, a sea captain whose strength has diminished, a fortuneteller who can’t read the future, and the wonderfully named Henry O’Henry, whose poetic powers are wasting away. Only by reclaiming the ring and his throne can Iggy and his friends halt the withering of their powers and escape the evil Kingdom of Naysayer. The underlying message that bullying never pays is handled with skill, and a humorous approach keeps the story light. The black-and-white illustrations resemble watercolor sketches and possess a rustic charm that complements the tale. It won’t be long before readers are cheering for Iggy as he gets back at the nasty people who’ve made his life a misery at the academy. A second book, Iggy and the Tower of Decisions, follows the intrepid hero’s adventures in his new role as Prince Rose of the Rose Kingdom.

An entertaining fantasy with a quirky, inventive storyline that shows how things invariably turn out badly for bullies.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Essential.

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THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST

20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK

A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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