For readers who’ve exhausted the Wimpy Kid series, an acceptable follow-up.

HENRY HUBBLE'S BOOK OF TROUBLES

Middle schooler Henry Harrison Hubble keeps an occasional “pretty personal” journal, but when it’s stolen and pages are posted on social media, he has to take drastic action.

Judging by the contents of his backpack (one of his troubles), Henry is in the eighth grade in school, but he’s years behind in social skills and sense of humor. Fascinated by the fact that he was named after the ninth U.S. president, he’s particularly pleased with his family’s special connection: They own a (now dried-up and bottled) turd from Harrison’s dog. Henry makes a variety of unwise choices that lead to troubles on a whale-watching field trip, at Halloween, in the lunchroom and in science class. Forging his mother’s name on a discipline slip leads to a grounding and actually seeing the historic turd, but he’s eventually released for other troubles: a Valentine’s Day dance and the loss of his journal. Like many other titles aimed at the middle-grade reader, this purports to be the diary of a budding cartoonist. Henry’s first-person narrative is accompanied by black-and-white drawings. He also includes some (convincingly child-written) poems. The genuine issue in Henry’s story is lost in the bathroom humor, which fourth graders will probably love.

For readers who’ve exhausted the Wimpy Kid series, an acceptable follow-up. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-74439-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

WAYS TO GROW LOVE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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