Especially apt for an election year.

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MEMOIRS OF A SIDEKICK

Can the least popular kid in school beat the most popular in an election? Maybe, if the unpopular kid’s Boris Snodbuckle.

Seventh-graders Boris and Adrian, both white judging from the cover, are best friends. Dreamer Boris always has an operation in mind or in progress, and Adrian’s there to assist. The operations all have noble aims, but they don’t always go as planned—like the toy drive that netted almost nothing and the attempt to keep teachers from using Styrofoam cups that ended in the boys’ expulsion from the Environmental Club. When the friends hear that school bully Robert plans to become student-body president and make things worse at Bendale Public School for everyone except his buddies, Boris announces his candidacy (and Operation Save our School). Even though each campaign strategy backfires and ends in suspensions—or Robert getting the credit—dedicated and optimistic Boris keeps up the fight. Can they make headway without breaking their five-rule code? Adrian narrates Canadian Skuy’s story of friendship and politics. Boris’ martyr complex might turn off some (the final rule of the code is don’t squeal, which he follows to a fault), and Adrian’s florid descriptions, phrasing, and vocabulary are more college professor than smart seventh grader. However, those seeking a tale of faithful friendship and underdog success could do worse.

Especially apt for an election year. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-568-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and...

THE TERRIBLE TWO GET WORSE

From the Terrible Two series , Vol. 2

When pranking perfection meets the seemingly unprankable foe, who gets the last laugh?

Terrible Two Niles and Miles have been merrily pranking their favorite targets, Principal Barkin and his dim, loathsome son Josh, at school and in town all autumn long. Fed up with the plague of pranks, former Principal Barkin (father of the current one) stages a coup d’état at a school board meeting and takes back his old job. This new-old Principal Barkin is draconian in his control of the school. He hangs a sign counting the days since the last prank…which, since he avows there is no prank if no one reacts (and he never reacts), means there have been no pranks. Miles and Niles despair as one after another of their complex, devious plots are ignored. School becomes unbearable until they seek help from a most unlikely source. Can three succeed where two have failed? John and Barnett’s sophomore effort is as much fun as series opener The Terrible Two (2015). The boys’ history as rivals and their home lives barely receive mention here, so the first volume is a must-read—no hardship. Cornell’s line drawings add to the goofy, deadpan experience.

This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and seekers of a good-hearted laugh. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1680-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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