Readers graduating from Junie B. to lengthier stories will find a new book-friend in Annie B.



Can “almost-always” best friends get through a rough patch to become “always-always” best friends?

Annie Brown is a writer/inventor (“wrinventor,” according to her wordsmith dad) who writes commercials for products she invents. Her “wrinventions” include Apology Armor (“the kneepads you wear on the days you have to say sorry”) and the Fishlight (a tankless, waterless, and, critically, live-fish–less aquarium that hangs on the wall, inspired by her little brother’s unfortunate curiosity about his pet fish’s squish factor.) However, as sidekick to Savannah Summerlyn, the girl who is “the best at everything,” Annie spends a lot of time in the background. Annie’s opportunity to use her “made-for-TV commercial voice” to showcase her commercial-writing talent comes when she auditions to host The Cat’s Meow, a local web show. But Savannah steals Annie’s audition and wins the spot. Can their friendship survive, or will they become never-again best friends? Annie’s first-person narration is hilariously astute. About the school mascot, the quail, she muses, “When you play another school in basketball, you don’t want to be the bird that gets eaten.” Annie’s friend Jake Ramirez’s surname implies he’s Latino, but all other characters are assumed white.

Readers graduating from Junie B. to lengthier stories will find a new book-friend in Annie B. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6385-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.


Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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From the Swindle series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Griffin Bing is “the man with the plan.” If something needs doing, Griffin carefully plans a fix and his best friend Ben usually gets roped in as assistant. When the town council ignores his plan for a skate park on the grounds of the soon-to-be demolished Rockford House, Griffin plans a camp-out in the house. While there, he discovers a rare Babe Ruth baseball card. His family’s money worries are suddenly a thing of the past, until unscrupulous collectables dealer S. Wendell Palomino swindles him. Griffin and Ben plan to snatch the card back with a little help. Pet-lover Savannah whispers the blood-thirsty Doberman. Rock-climber “Pitch” takes care of scaling the house. Budding-actor Logan distracts the nosy neighbor. Computer-expert Melissa hacks Palomino’s e-mail and the house alarm. Little goes according to plan, but everything turns out all right in this improbable but fun romp by the prolific and always entertaining Korman. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-90344-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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