MR. CORBETT IS IN ORBIT!

From the My Weird School Graphic Novel series

Catnip for those who relish silliness.

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. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

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 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

MEET THE BIGFEET

From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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