Worst. Principal. Ever. And plenty of potty humor, dialed up to 11.

RUMORS

Prankster Russell Sprowt bites off considerably more than he can chew in a bid to get him and his friends off his ultramean principal’s “manure list.”

Cazet, a former school librarian, really has the ax and grindstone out. There’s been a spate of disappearances at Russell’s school, most notably fave teacher Miss Mabel Butters, suddenly replaced by Jim Beam–sucking sub “Smiling Sally.” Against this backdrop, the theft of a prized Mud Wrestling Champion of the Century trophy prompts hulking principal Ms. Krunchensnap (formerly Big Mama the Eye Popper) to extort vows from Russell, her favorite victim, not only to find the trophy, but to expedite a rematch with retired rival Torpedo the Atomic Midget. Fortunately, Russell has a loyal and resourceful posse with a valuable new member in Lou, a weirdly flexible drainpipe and sewer dweller. Unfortunately, the young detectives have a short deadline, storm drain monsters, and a pair of requisite bullies, Butch and Slow Eddie, to cope with. Nonetheless, highlighted by gloriously mucky bouts of mud wrestling, all comes round right. Though too small to determine his oddball characters’ ethnicities, the author’s chapter head vignettes provide amusing peeks at upcoming incidents.

Worst. Principal. Ever. And plenty of potty humor, dialed up to 11. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939547-32-3

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Energizing and compassionate.

OBIE IS MAN ENOUGH

An aspiring transgender Junior Olympian swimmer finds the strength and pride in his identity to race toward his dreams in this debut coming-of-age novel by groundbreaking trans athlete Bailar.

Starting over after his abusive and discriminatory swim coach excluded him from the team, Obie Chang, a biracial (White/Korean) transgender boy worries about catching up to the other boys and proving that he is “man enough.” Although his family supports him, one of his best friends at school and the pool has turned into his biggest bully, and the other is drifting away toward the mean, popular girls. As he dives from the blocks into the challenging waters of seventh grade and swims toward his goal of qualifying for the Junior Olympics, Obie discovers belonging in his community and in himself. Affirming adults—including his parents and grandparents, a new swim coach, and his favorite teacher—play significant supporting roles by offering encouragement without pressure, centering Obie’s feelings, and validating Obie’s right to set his own boundaries. Vulnerable first-person narration explores Obie’s internal conflict about standing up for himself and his desire to connect to his Korean heritage through his relationship with Halmoni, his paternal grandmother. A romance with Charlie, a cisgender biracial (Cuban/White) girl, is gentle and privacy-affirming. Short chapters and the steady pace of external tension balance moments of rumination, grounding them in the ongoing action of Obie’s experiences.

Energizing and compassionate. (author's note, resources, glossary) (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37946-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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