Featuring plenty of the usual chestnuts (“Mary Had A Little Lamb,” “Hey, Diddle Diddle,” etc.) interspersed with an array of...

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NURSERY RHYME COMICS

50 TIMELESS RHYMES BY 50 CELEBRATED CARTOONISTS

No fewer than 50 cartoonists and comic-book artists provide distinctive visual riffs on as many nursery rhymes in this memorable showcase.

Featuring plenty of the usual chestnuts (“Mary Had A Little Lamb,” “Hey, Diddle Diddle,” etc.) interspersed with an array of such less-well-known entries as “The Lion and the Unicorn,” “Yon Yonson,” “Cindereller” and “There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket,” the choice of verses alone makes this a refreshing change of pace for children and parents. The “rich, loam-like mix” of artists, as scholar Leonard Marcus puts it in his well-caffeinated introduction, gives these “nutshell narratives” a “back-story elaboration” that ranges from “endearing slapstick” to “noir-ishly operatic high drama.” Lucy Knisley’s “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” is a tattooed rocker who runs a daycare center. David Macaulay repeatedly builds up London Bridge in typically complete and precisely drawn detail. Each of Cyril Pedrosa’s five little piggies has a (sometimes fatal) encounter with a wolf. Most of the illustrations are framed in sequential panels, though Jules Feiffer, Craig Thompson, Gahan Wilson and some others take more freestyle narrative approaches. Visually far more complicated than the usual toddler-friendly nursery fare, this is best saved for older children—and for parents who crave a little graphic stimulation after putting baby to bed.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-600-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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