Kids and adults alike will guffaw in delight.

The Wind in the Willows (1908) meets Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster in these short stories.

From the co-creator of Dora the Explorer come four tales ostensibly about luxury-loving parrot Freddie but really about how his clever butler, Peccary, saves the day. In the first story, Freddie worries that their apartment is haunted when the door starts knocking by itself (Peccary cracks the case through a revelation that will crack up readers). In the second story, Freddie’s denial that he has been sleep-eating waffle batter leads to a chain of comedic misunderstandings revolving around reoccurring police characters (officers Scott Piranha and Gladys Otter) with a history of fining Freddie for his shenanigans. A third story, in which Freddie takes his car out for a spin, is a cautionary tale about careful driving with a lovely twist at the end: Freddie’s genuine appreciation of Peccary for not saying “I told you so.” The fourth story ties in the sleep-eating plot of the second in a surprising way as Peccary cleverly uses the quirk to save Freddie’s parents from social ruin. In all of the stories, childlike Freddie’s first-person narration highlights his obliviousness, with Weiner pairing a sly, dry wit with downright silly content. All characters are anthropomorphized animals, finely dressed in illustrations—though it does strike an odd note when the police officers ride regular horses. Otherwise, the exquisitely detailed illustrations are as charming as the characters.

Kids and adults alike will guffaw in delight. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37820-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018


From the Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker series , Vol. 1

A kind child in a book for middle-grade readers? There’s no downside to that.

Beatrice Zinker is a kinder, gentler Judy Moody.

Beatrice doesn’t want to be fit in a box. Her first word was “WOW,” not “Mom.” She does her best thinking upside down and prefers to dress like a ninja. Like Judy Moody, she has patient parents and a somewhat annoying younger brother. (She also has a perfectly ordinary older sister.) Beatrice spends all summer planning a top-secret spy operation complete with secret codes and a secret language (pig Latin). But on the first day of third grade, her best friend, Lenny (short for Eleanor), shows up in a dress, with a new friend who wants to play veterinarian at recess. Beatrice, essentially a kind if somewhat quirky kid, struggles to see the upside of the situation and ends up with two friends instead of one. Line drawings on almost every spread add to the humor and make the book accessible to readers who might otherwise balk at its 160 pages. Thankfully, the rhymes in the text do not continue past the first chapter. Children will enjoy the frequent puns and Beatrice’s preference for climbing trees and hanging upside down. The story drifts dangerously close to pedantry when Beatrice asks for advice from a grandmotherly neighbor but is saved by likable characters and upside-down cake. Beatrice seems to be white; Lenny’s surname, Santos, suggests that she may be Latina; their school is a diverse one.

A kind child in a book for middle-grade readers? There’s no downside to that. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-6738-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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