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


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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The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.


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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Magical animals become a kooky, sweet metaphor for growing up.


She’s just the adorablest, teeniest of stray kittens—suddenly grown as big as a hippopotamus.

Zoe’s not supposed to bring stray animals home anymore, ever since the skunk incident. Who can resist the world’s smallest kitten, though? And it’s Zoe’s 12th birthday, and she’s been unhappy at how tall she’s grown, and she’s been crushed over her older brother’s impending departure for college; eventually, her concerned parents cave. But after Pipsqueak’s been with Zoe for just a couple of days, she’s suddenly a full-grown cat. Then she’s the size of a dog, then a lion, and after less than a week, a hippo. If the government finds out about the enormous talking feline (for Pipsqueak can speak, now, and read as well), will they take her away to Area 51? Zoe and her best friend, Harrison, begin a quest: They’ll take Pipsqueak to Zoe’s wacky New Age aunt, who’ll maybe have a solution for them. Along the way their fellowship swells with magical animals, an offbeat crew composed of a six-tailed green dog and a multicolored flying mouse. The far-fetched setup and ensuing adventure convey themes that will resonate with the audience; Pipsqueak’s as unhappy with her out-of-control body and circumstances as Zoe, and the quest may lead them to new comfort with themselves. Zoe is depicted as white on the cover, and Harrison is of South Asian descent.

Magical animals become a kooky, sweet metaphor for growing up. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-06502-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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