Don’t bother wedging this one on your bookshelf.

WEDGIEMAN TO THE RESCUE

From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 2

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. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

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. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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