A sweet and silly read for any time of day.

INTERRUPTING CHICKEN

COOKIES FOR BREAKFAST

The titular fowl is back, just in time for breakfast.

Readers were first introduced to Stein’s character when the irrepressible little red chicken had a hard time settling down at bedtime despite Papa’s dogged efforts to calm his offspring with some fairy tales. This latest title takes place in the morning, and a wide-awake Chicken struggles to rouse Papa from bed with appeals for “cookies for breakfast.” He resists this blandishment but acquiesces to a request for a snuggly reading of nursery rhymes—which Chicken, of course, interrupts. Repeatedly. The improvised, inserted rhymes persist in their advocacy of cookies for breakfast, and the series’ trademark metafictive play of books within a book depicts familiar Mother Goose characters startled by Chicken’s intrusion (with cookies) into their rhymes. “There was an old woman / who lived in a shoe. / She had so many — // ‘Cookies, she gave me a few!’ ” yells Chicken, jumping in through the window and startling the old woman, who’s just taken a sheet of cookies out of the oven. On the next page they sit down to a cozy snack of tea and cookies. Papa and Chicken’s scenes are done in rich, full color, while the nursery-rhyme pages are done as bleached-out cartoons. A culminating rhyme of Chicken’s own devising fails to convince Papa of the merits of cookies for breakfast, but he has another treat in store for his little chick: pancakes.

A sweet and silly read for any time of day. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0778-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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Preachy and predictable.

RUBYLICIOUS

From the Pinkalicious series

Pinkalicious is excited to add the 100th rock to her rock collection.

Her brother, Peter, is not impressed. He thinks the rock looks dirty and that it isn’t special at all. When the siblings try to rub the rock clean, though, something wonderful happens: A magical figure emerges in a cloud of red smoke. Rather than ask her name, Pinkalicious and Peter tell her they will call her Rocky. Rocky accepts the new name and nervously says that she can grant the children a wish. But every time the sister and brother make a wish, Rocky initially grants it and then talks them out of it. When Peter and Pinkalicious wish for a gigantic mountain of sweets, for instance, a timorous Rocky shows them how eating so much sugar harms their bodies. When the children wish that they could fly, Rocky shows them how dangerous flying can be. When they wish to live in a castle, Rocky gives them a palace that is too large and cold to be any fun. In the end, Pinkalicious and Peter decide that the best wish they can make isn’t for themselves but for Rocky—a decision that leads to even more magical results. This latest series installment underwhelms. In addition to the arbitrary plot and wooden dialogue, Pinkalicious and Peter come across as maddeningly entitled. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Preachy and predictable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-305521-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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