Offers entertainment and will likely whet appetites for s’mores, but lacks clarity.

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A FUN FOOD FRIENDS ADVENTURES

ONE BAD FRY SPOILS THE BUNCH

In this debut illustrated children’s book, a bad French fry causes trouble in a land of fun, delicious food.  

In Fun Food Land, locals enjoy stopping by the Poutine Café, where French-E-Fry is owner and chef. Not only is the food great, it’s also free. The chef has Fry Friends who live under his protective hat (a beret, of course), who help him remember recipes and propose new ones. But one day, the chef tells Miss Cupcake about his suggestion for a new dessert: s’mores! The recipe starts with capturing some marshmallows when they aren’t looking, then melting them, drizzling them with chocolate, sandwiching them between graham crackers…and eating them. Horrified, Miss Cupcake hurries to warn Mr. and Mrs. Marshmallow, who panic and run, leaving a sticky trail behind. At the café, a regular called Pops discovers the truth: a rotten potato named Larry has somehow infiltrated the Fry Friends under the chef’s beret. Larry comes from a bad neighborhood, Junk Food Land, where the “unhappy packaged foods with bad attitudes live,” and he wants to plant “French-E-Fry’s head with many Fun Food Land residents as main ingredients!” Pops and Miss Cupcake come up with a cunning plan to foil Larry, and everyone celebrates at the end with marshmallow hugs and free poutine. The logic of Joelle’s and Beaupre’s tale doesn’t make much sense: how does the chef consist of being a container of fries, which are also independent beings? And if it’s horrifying to eat marshmallows, why not French fries, the main ingredient in poutine? Poutine (non-Canadian parents may need to explain the reference) is greasy-spoon fare. Residents of Fun Food Land include the Marshmallows, Miss Cupcake, Danny Donut, and Hamburger Harold, who hardly make a strong contrast to the denizens of Junk Food Land. And it’s a little odd to make s’mores, that campfire favorite, an object of horror. These difficulties aside, the book is amusing, with an exciting story of danger averted through cooperation, planning, and daring. Joelle’s illustrations are dynamic, colorful, and expressive, helping to tell the story.

Offers entertainment and will likely whet appetites for s’mores, but lacks clarity. 

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 28

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2017

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Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE SKELETON ROAD

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 6

The monster-fighting gang from Wakefield departs on a post-apocalyptic road trip.

In this sixth installment of the heavily illustrated, Netflix-adapted series, quirky Jack Sullivan and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk finally leave their creature-ridden town in search of the ultimate baddie, Thrull, who previously deceived them. The quartet takes their tricked-out ride (an armored RV named Bad Mama) onto the open road (with Jack’s Zombie Squad in tow) to find the Outpost, where they believe a certain monster will be able to give them the location of the evil Tower where they believe Thrull now resides. Of course, the journey is littered with all kinds of nightmarish beasts and pitfalls (including an epic water park battle and slime-dripping baby monster), but the kids persist, armed with their endless gadgets and quick thinking. As the group races toward Thrull, the action culminates with an achingly tantalizing cliffhanger; expect audible groans and vociferous demands for the next installment. Fans of this series will revel in this fast-paced escapade with its recognizable black-and-white illustrations and trademark humor. Readers new to the series or those who are only familiar with the animated show may be a bit put off by this later volume that relies heavily on its own language of monsters and weapons. Jack, June, and Dirk are light-skinned; Quint is dark-skinned.

Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger. (Graphic fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-34-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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

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. 19, 2019

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