THE COMPLETE BOOK OF DRAGONS

The author's fans will welcome this edition of nine dragon stories, all but one of them written for The Strand Magazine in 1899 and published together a year later, though as they've generally aged less gracefully than her full-length novels we wouldn't choose this as any child's introduction to Nesbit. Her mock morals now seem less amusing than they must have in 1900, her arch asides to readers verge on the precious, and that whimsical geography and natural history (as in the Kingdom of Rotundia, where the elephant, "dear little pet," is the size of a silly muff dog and the dormouse is "the biggest creature of all") can be carried to tiresome lengths. Yet her masterful, matter-of-fact juxtaposition of the ordinary, the fabulous and the wildly ridiculous is in disarming evidence throughout — whether in details such as the "universal tap room" wherein two children, the "Deliverers of Their Country," turn on the rain taps and wash a horde of invading dragons off to sea; or throughout the adroitly tongue-in-cheek fairy tale of an enchanted princess, a sailor boy who overcomes a guardian dragon and nine whirlpools to rescue her from an island tower, and a witch who gives up her magic for the queen's gratitude. And even the whimsy has its redeeming triumphs — at least for those of us who can't resist an opening in which a child is summoned from his nursery blocks by Nurse's announcement: "Master Lionel, dear, they've come to fetch you to go and be King.

Pub Date: March 5, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1973

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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