An old-fashioned quest with a lovable protagonist.

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BERA THE ONE-HEADED TROLL

One-headed troll Bera finds a human baby and resolves to get it to safety.

Happy, humble little troll Bera is the pumpkin farmer for the troll king. After finishing up the year’s pumpkin harvest, she hears a cry and discovers monstrous mermaids have found a light-skinned human infant to torment. Compassionate Bera rescues the baby and tries to find out how a human ended up on her island in the troll lands. The answer comes right to Bera’s door when Cloote, former head witch of the troll king, comes for the misplaced baby to use in creating a monster. Unwilling to turn the baby over for such a fate, Bera and her owl companion, Winslowe, seek out the famous heroes from Bera’s books, hoping to find one who can go on the quest to bring the baby home. This quest of her own brings her to hedgehog wizards, goblins, shadow wolves, and more. The various allies and enemies all clear a path for a final showdown with Cloote and a final decision on how best to protect the baby that earns bighearted Bera a family. The world has a Norse vibe evoked by its population of creatures and by the gorgeous landscapes Bera travels through in artfully sequenced graphic panels. The character art’s equally impressive, and the orange-and–burnt-umber color scheme’s a smart choice for the nocturnal beings.

An old-fashioned quest with a lovable protagonist. (Graphic fantasy. 7-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-106-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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