Fans of Korman’s school stories and caper novels may find this fluff just fun enough.

LEVEL 13

From the Slacker series , Vol. 2

Can Cam hit 50,000 subscribers on his game stream? Not with distractions like schoolwork.

In Slacker (2016), Cam Boxer tried to perpetuate his video game “lifestyle” by starting a fake do-gooder club at school; then everyone joined the Positive Action Group. Now it’s so successful (and the eighth-grader is such a hero) that he has no time to game. He and his best friends, Chuck and Pavel, devise a scheme to convince the student body that Cam is failing and needs to study instead of running the P.A.G. This works, and Cam’s stream takes off, especially after Cam starts playing a rare, early-release copy of “Guardians of Geldorf.” But then his classmates, worried about their hero, start offering homework help; a mysterious stalker comes to town; and Chuck’s budding relationship with P.A.G. second-in-command Daphne threatens both the game streaming and the three boys’ friendship. This sequel, narrated, as before, by the threesome and a few others by turns, is more of the same. Cam is no more likable, as he lies and cheats his way to unearned success. Nothing here is actually believable—a Zorro mask would not hide Cam’s identity—and a twist about questionable content in the game’s early release is profoundly unexciting. As before, the cast defaults to white, with diversity largely cued via naming convention.

Fans of Korman’s school stories and caper novels may find this fluff just fun enough. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-28620-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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