A whoopie-pie truck threatens the Wolowitz family ice cream business in this third adventure starring fourth-grader Hank and his invisible bandapat friend, Inkling.
While Hank’s father desperately tries to compete with the interloper, whose whoopie-pie ice cream filling is not local or organic but whose pumpkin cake is delicious, Hank has his own struggles. His one-time friend Patne now spends more time with Henry Kim. And unlike his neighbor Chin and the two boys he calls his half-friends, he’s been relegated to the Neons, the beginner section in swim class. Inkling tries to help him, but it’s hard to learn swimming moves from someone invisible. And it’s still important to keep Inkling’s existence a secret. For readers new to this (mostly) realistic series set in the author’s own Brooklyn, Hank and Inkling offer background in the opening chapter. Those who’ve been with the two since the beginning of the school year will be pleased to see Hank developing focus and to see them both finding friends. The first-person narrative moves along briskly, with plenty of dialogue and Bliss’ grayscale illustrations to break up the pages. (Final art not seen.)
With humor and sympathy for her appealing protagonist and his secret friend, Jenkins continues a strong series for readers of short chapter books. (Fantasy. 7-10)