Young readers who love to pretend will see Gracie as a kindred spirit and look forward to future seasonal adventures in this...

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The Adventures of Gracie & MonkeyBear

SUMMER

A girl and her dog rescue pretend dinosaurs, aliens, and whales in this debut ode to imaginative play by O’Kelly with illustrations by Farrell.

Young Gracie wakes her dog, MonkeyBear, in the morning and makes plans for a “perfect day for an adventure.” MonkeyBear is clearly a genius: his room features posters of Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, and the Parthenon, as well as a bookshelf with titles on string theory and wormhole physics among other, more immediately useful subjects. Gracie’s enthusiasm is contagious, and together she and MonkeyBear begin their first mission: excavating a mystery in their backyard. There, they find a living but stuck Tyrannosaurus rex, cleverly revealed in a two-page spread that requires readers to turn the book sideways. Gracie and MonkeyBear quickly offer to get the dinosaur out and give it directions back home. Later, the girl and her dog are startled to see a Voosurian starship that appears to be crashing. Luckily, they both speak Voosurian, a cleverly phonetic language with lots of “OO” sounds that kids will enjoy sounding out, and MonkeyBear even has a helpful ship-repair manual (“ROOF [I will go and get it],” the dog says). After designing a slingshot launcher to get their friend home, Gracie and MonkeyBear begin their third adventure, involving a whale. In this fantastic book, O’Kelly deftly manages the transitions from one adventure to the next, and Farrell’s inventive, entertaining images capture the whimsy and delight of imagination. In particular, Gracie’s costume changes—a paleontologist’s fedora and leather jacket, a starship mechanic’s purple jumpsuit, and wet suit and cap to rescue the whale—suit each of her missions perfectly. Also, in the various color illustrations, Gracie’s skin tone is ambiguous, making it possible for young readers of many ethnicities to see themselves in her.

Young readers who love to pretend will see Gracie as a kindred spirit and look forward to future seasonal adventures in this planned kids’ book series.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 36

Publisher: MonkeyBear Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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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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