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THE WORST BREAKFAST

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

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. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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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

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