Noodlehead stories are perennially entertaining, but better collections exist.

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THE GOTHAMITES

Wise men become fools to escape excessive demands in this Estonian import.

The male Gothamites of Turkeyland, renowned for their wisdom, travel extensively, advising foreign heads of state—while their homeland, run by the womenfolk, falls into chaos. The desperate women plead for them to return, and upon doing so, the men decide that they must behave stupidly so their services will no longer be desired outside of Turkeyland. Ten short stories follow in the best noodlehead folklore tradition: A group of fools with tangled legs cannot get up because they don’t know which feet are theirs; another one attempts to catch light in a sack. The richly colored, Brueghel-like illustrations feature intricate, comical scenes of the Gothamites in all their splendid incompetence (and cheekily tuck in a hammer and sickle). In keeping with the sexism of the text, the big-bosomed and -bottomed women are clad in slip dresses even in the dead of winter; the men are modestly attired. Turkeyland seems to be Northern European, and all characters appear white apart from one black boy wearing a sweatsuit. The lengthy text and small-scale illustrations make this suitable for independent reading or one-on-one sharing. It may appeal to readers who enjoy the absurd and the slapstick, although many stories feel too long, diluting the impact of the humor—the printing of page numbers upside down underscores the loopiness.

Noodlehead stories are perennially entertaining, but better collections exist. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939810-28-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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