A satisfying sequel to a memorable first book featuring an unprepossessing hero who might just become a household name.

Prince Iggy and the Tower of Decisions

In the second installment of this engaging illustrated series, Fynn (Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer, 2013) continues the zany adventures of his apprehensive hero.

News has reached the Rose Kingdom that the rightful heir to the throne has been found, and he’s now on his way to reclaim the crown. But Iggy Rose, the heir, is a small, slightly nervous boy who has just escaped from the school bullies; is he ready to rule a kingdom? The plot of this second book is even more bizarre than the first, with Fynn’s cast of eccentric characters heading for space in a rocket ship. When Iggy finally makes it to the Rose Kingdom—after getting his body back from the sentient Rose Star, which switches bodies with Iggy for a large section of the book—he’s forced to enter the dreaded Tower of Decisions to compete with the evil queen who has usurped his position. The tests he undergoes in the tower—confronting a hungry shark, dancing in front of some judges, battling a blue dragon and coming face to face with his deceased parents—are all tests in which the young boy’s character is examined. The strangeness of the fantasy, especially the obstacles that the hero and his crew must overcome, adds to the excitement, but it is the author’s underlying message that resonates most. If Iggy is to defeat the self-centered, vain queen, he must first conquer the small voice of fear within him. He must learn to let go of the past, to forge boldly ahead and reach his goal. With plenty of inspiring, spirited friends, can he lose? After many grayscale, watercolor-style illustrations, the author’s inconclusive ending suggests that further installments might be on the way—good news for all who’ve enjoyed the first two books.

A satisfying sequel to a memorable first book featuring an unprepossessing hero who might just become a household name.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 134

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

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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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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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