From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 2

Don’t bother wedging this one on your bookshelf.

Someone needs to save new readers from this book.

Sadly, the second adventure of the vegetable-loving, potty-mouth-named superhero is…not so super. As was the case with its predecessor, Wedgieman: A Hero Is Born (2012), the story starts in at one end by preaching the virtues of vegetables, and then goes out the other end with some pretty lame scatological humor. Of course, readers will only reach the point when the hero gives himself an obligatory wedgie at book’s end if they make it through the poorly conceived plot twists. These include Wedgieman savoring a snack of celery and the introduction of the story’s villain, who calls himself Bad Dude. This sets up the predictable punch line that finds the children who show up in the story as Bad Dude’s victims misreading his name: “D-u-d-e spells doodie.” Even though veggies, not academics, are central to the book’s didactic impulse, the hero just breezes by this misreading with the matter-of-fact line, “They can’t spell,” which seems a sad irony in a book intended for new readers. Not even Shea’s humorous, cartoonish digital art can save the day, despite some valiant efforts.

Don’t bother wedging this one on your bookshelf. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-93072-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013


Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015


From the Stink series

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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