A brilliant, original, infinitely rereadable book that can sit alongside Sendak and Dahl.

THE WORST BREAKFAST

A young black girl tells her little sister that the breakfast before them reminds her of the worst breakfast, but her sister has no recollection of that terrible meal.

Incredulous, the girl tells her sister all about the most disgusting of breakfasts, though this still doesn't ring a bell. So she spins a larger and larger tale, each piece of food more awful than the last. Miéville and Smith's dialogue is fantastic: witty, smart, with great rhythm that doesn't sacrifice artful turns of phrase to reach for an internal rhyme. "It gummed my throat and chilled my soul. Too much cheese. Not enough hole," the girl says of some inferior Swiss cheese. Smith's artwork keeps pace with the text, which the artist sets into little rectangles to contrast with the jaggedly flamboyant paintings that get increasingly manic as the girl goes on, incorporating tentacles and pterodactyls as well as piled-high foodstuffs. Both Miéville and Smith are well-known for their work for adults, and this will certainly appeal to their fans who are parents. But this should be in the hands of all kids who aren’t easily satiated by tamer picture books and who would engage with a real work of art that they can revisit over and over. None of the artwork is too gross to behold, even for the squeamish, but it does perfectly illustrate the culinary horrors the girl is trying to convey to her sister.

A brilliant, original, infinitely rereadable book that can sit alongside Sendak and Dahl. (Picture book. 3 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61775-486-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Black Sheep/Akashic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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