If the story feels episodic and unresolved, the jokes work, and most of the time, they work twice as well as necessary.

READ REVIEW

BUG BLONSKY AND HIS VERY LONG LIST OF DON'TS

Some humor writers have a rule of thumb: always make the jokes funnier than they need to be. This book is much funnier than it needs to be.

When Bug Blonsky goes skateboarding, he doesn’t just let a dog ride on the board with him. There’s also a very alarmed-looking frog at the front of the board, sitting in a bowl of cereal to keep damp. “Bug” got his nickname because he’s “super wiggly and never sit[s] still” or—according to his sister—because he’s “super annoying.” He’s proud of his superpower and pictures himself in a superhero outfit with bug-eye goggles and four arms. A lot of authors and illustrators would have left off there (the drawing is quite funny), but Redmond tops the joke by listing all Bug’s abilities (“Two sets of armpits for twice as many fart sounds”). The book is almost entirely a collection of jokes. The plot can be summed up in seven words: Bug gets in trouble, over and over. The pictures often improve the jokes; they’re unpolished but effective. They almost resemble characters from graffiti art, like a much more detailed version of “Kilroy was here.” The cast is a largely white one, though Bug’s best friend, Louie, is black.

If the story feels episodic and unresolved, the jokes work, and most of the time, they work twice as well as necessary. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8935-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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