A weird and wonderful intergalactic tale.

SPACE DUMPLINS

In a galaxy far, far away, a young girl and her motley crew of friends fight to save her father and the solar system from a destructive fleet of space whales.

After exhausting all other fuel sources, inhabitants of the universe now rely on the waste of planet-eating space whales, which is processed by "lumberjacks" like Violet's dad. Her impoverished family lives in a trailer park on a perilously stationary asteroid, unlike the upper-crust, who reside on perpetually moving, fuel-dependent space stations, where her mother is a day laborer. Lured by danger and money, her father agrees to an impossible mission and ends up missing. Violet and her newfound gang of friends—an erudite young rooster named Elliot who identifies himself as a chicken, an alien claiming to be the last of his kind, and a gang of her father's old cronies—embark on a quest to save her dad from a space whale and help stop a deluge of whale dysentery from drowning the solar system, but they learn that his disappearance is a part of something larger and more sinister. Thompson's art is wild and busy, with overcrowded, unconventional panel structures. The worldbuilding is a strikingly imaginative pastiche that seamlessly blends biblical references, poop jokes, and social satire. Fans of Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl series should gravitate to this offering.

A weird and wonderful intergalactic tale. (Graphic science fiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-56541-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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