An appealing, encouraging picture book.

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JOURNEY

In this illustrated children’s tale, two friends go on a ballooning adventure.

A child and a dog decide to see something of the world, so they step into a hot air balloon. The two travelers lose their way for a time as wind, rain, and mist obscure their surroundings. As they drift through storms, sunshine, and snowflakes, the friends discover that even bad-weather days have “their brighter moments.” They see beautiful and varied sights as they float above everything, guided by the stars until their safe return home. Carmel (Lucy Lick-Me-Not and the Day Eaters, 2014, etc.) combines minimal text with luscious acrylic-on-canvas illustrations of blue and purple dotted, swished, or dabbed with contrasting pinks, whites, and greens. The child and dog are always depicted as black silhouettes that show surprising personality, as with the dog’s cocked ears; the silhouettes also help the book’s inclusivity, as there are no cues about race or sex (the child is short-haired and wears a simple shirt and pants). Although the artwork is the real draw here, the tale is also told charmingly, sweetly reassuring children that venturing into the world has rewards as well as uncertainties, and that “Home would always be there.” The story also works well as a bedtime book, preparing children for a journey into dreams.

An appealing, encouraging picture book.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

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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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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

A NOVEL IN CARTOONS

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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