(GEORGE)

Parentheses because George is Ben's concentric twin, his loudmouthed inner voice, or, as Mrs. Konigsburg puts it in a nutshell. . . "Ben and George got along splendidly until the year of Benjamin's sixth grade when Ben's need to be accepted by others became greater than his need to be acceptable to George." With hilarious consequences like the nosedive in his marks when George withdraws from Organic Chemistry, and some that are not so funny — in that William, the older boy Ben tries to impress and George resents, is using the chemistry lab (this is an experimental, mixedgraded school) for extra-curricular, extra-legal purposes and he sees to it that suspicion for the theft of supplies falls on Ben. In heavier hands than Mrs. Konigsburg's, this could be deadly; but while Ben's mother may be Betty Anti-Crocker in the kitchen (quoth George) she not only believes in him but, when it counts, believes him too and while science teacher Mr. Berkowitz may not cut much of a figure, he has the soul and spirit of a hero. And, while Ben is running the gantlet of a stepmother who, having minored in psych, hears George as evidence of paranoia and a psychiatrist George won't, for once, speak up to, Mrs. Carr and Mr. Berkowitz are finding each other in one of the most engaging adult courtships ever to get into a juvenile. As for George, Ben promises not to forget him, and when Ben's voice deepens, it becomes indistinguishable from George's, but he'll "watch his diet and never swallow orange seeds or watermelon pits because to do so could bring on an attack of appendicitis, and that he realizes would involve surgery." In current fiction, a boy with a problem seldom has it so good.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 1970

ISBN: 1416949577

Page Count: 199

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1970

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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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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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