HOW MIRKA MET A METEORITE

From the Hereville series , Vol. 2

Hooray! The charmingly imperfect Mirka returns to battle a miming meteorite (How Mirka Got Her Sword, 2010).

Still grounded after her last adventure, Mirka wriggles her way out of her house arrest after an important game of chess with her stepmother, receiving from her a message of things to come: "[W]hen you have to make a decision, imagine the person you want to become someday. Ask yourself, what would that person do?" After another encounter with the witch and the multilimbed troll of the first book, Mirka finds herself stuck with a sapient meteorite that has assumed her appearance. What seems like a great idea (just think: They can split chores!) quickly sours when she finds herself missing meals and time with her family. When Mirka decides she’s had enough, she challenges Meteorite Mirka (known as Metty) to an epic battle that will take brains—not brawn—to win. Watching Mirka fight the seemingly perfect version of herself is riveting. Deutsch has created a wonderful world in Mirka's insulated Orthodox village and continues to capture it adroitly—though he has left himself enough room to blast Mirka out to space without readers batting an eye. Mirka is unflinchingly likable because she is so tempestuous and inexact, and really, who can’t relate to that?

This truly clever series is lots of fun. (Graphic fantasy. 8-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0398-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

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. 18, 2019

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

Close Quickview