Catnip for those who relish silliness.

MR. CORBETT IS IN ORBIT!

From the My Weird School Graphic Novel series

The popular My Weird School chapter-book series gets a graphic revamp.

At Ella Mentry School, puns and goofiness reign supreme. Narrator A.J.—who dislikes zombies and broccoli as well as school and coffee—truly abhors know-it-all Andrea. Their class takes a field trip to NASA, and while on a space shuttle, a comic mishap finds a peckish A.J. pushing the “launch” button instead of the “lunch” button, propelling the class into the cosmos. Tour guide Mr. Corbett faints, leaving the class’s launch in a lurch when they must figure out how to pilot the vessel. However, when an alien spaceship appears and seems to be nearing the shuttle, what will the class do? Gutman’s trademark punning panache is instantly recognizable alongside longtime series illustrator Paillot’s vibrant full-color cartoon art, giving this just the right feel of being both new and familiar. Most chapters end with the incantatory cliffhanger “that’s when the weirdest thing in the history of the world happened,” urging readers onward. Gutman briefly touches upon climate change, interspersing a few factoids here and there, and as the plot comes to a close, a zany solution is offered. The issue is addressed with greater seriousness in both an afterword and list of resources. Established fans should be at home here, and the story stands alone well enough to entice new readers, though those new to the rampant jokiness may be overwhelmed by the combined narrative and visual busyness. Most characters present White save for a select few adults (including the titular Mr. Corbett, who is Black) and students.

Catnip for those who relish silliness. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-294761-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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