Young or reluctant readers seeking something very brief and a bit dark might enjoy one enough to try a second.

A DOG'S BREAKFAST

From the Nightmare Club series , Vol. 1

“Graves” and her Nightmare Club have some stories to spook young readers.

Glen is a nasty young man. He has a high screechy voice, and he only opens his mouth for two reasons: to complain or to lie. One day Glen becomes lost during a class trip to the woods. He complains loudly, and a strange, tiny creature offers to help, but Glen rudely spurns assistance. The creature tells Glen to watch himself or it will turn him into something more useful. Glen ignores the warning, and his nasty behavior triggers a change. Worried, he dials back his nastiness. But when he thinks no one’s looking, he starts to kick a stray dog…and is never seen again. Published in the U.K. in 2011 and 2012, the Nightmare Club books are very short, highly illustrated tales ostensibly written by “Annie Graves,” a (fictional) 12-year-old who lives near Dublin. The actual author of each tale (in this case, Katherine Farmar) is acknowledged in the “Thank You” in the frontmatter of each volume. McElhinney’s black-and-white illustrations appear on every page. Publishing simultaneously are Help! My Brother’s a Zombie, Mirrored, Guinea Pig Killer and Frankenkids.

Young or reluctant readers seeking something very brief and a bit dark might enjoy one enough to try a second. (Horror. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-4350-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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