MAXX COMEDY

THE FUNNIEST KID IN AMERICA

A lighter-than-air tale features Max Carmody, a sixth-grader with a mania (if not, from the evidence at each chapter’s head, a talent) for standup, whose attempt to compete in a national comedy contest hits all sorts of snags. Korman surrounds his Seinfeld wannabe with semi-dysfunctional friends, and propels him through a series of efforts, first, to record a demo CD, then to find a live audience on which to practice his routine, and finally to make the audition despite parental resistance, bad weather, wrong turns and mechanical breakdown. After all that, he arrives too late to show his stuff—but his CD, recorded with a canned laugh track that turns out to be a tape of a cow giving birth, makes even the national news and earns him a triumphal gig at a local comedy club. Max’s lame or fragmentary jokes won’t come close to bringing the house down, but some of the more farcical set pieces here might, and the author artfully injects family and friendship issues that bulk the tale up without weighing it down. A rib-tickling followup performance to Sachar’s Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes (1991) or Levy’s My Life as a Fifth Grade Comedian (1997). (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7868-0746-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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