THE SUPERTEACHER PROJECT

A school story with a twist, told with humor, insight, and empathy.

What does it mean to be human?

Mr. Aidact is the new teacher at Brightling Middle School. He immediately makes a strong impression when, despite having his back turned, he reaches out and catches a spitball the moment before it hits his head. This does not endear him to spitball-thrower Oliver Zahn, Brightling’s self-described foremost rule breaker and the first narrator in this tale told through multiple perspectives. Gifted student and field hockey player Rosalie Arnette, like many kids her age, is just trying to figure out how to negotiate the hallways and the middle school social structure. Nathan Popova, Oliver’s best friend, enjoys a good prank but doesn’t want to get in trouble, which is hard when your buddy actively goes looking for it. Steinke Newhouse—who really hates being called Stinky—feels his greatest talent is arguing, which regularly lands him in detention. Although Mr. Aidact seems to be very literal and to lack a sense of humor, he sees and gets each student, meeting them where they’re at. Is he too good to be true? Oliver and Nathan know something’s up—but the answer, which brings in AI and government experiments—surprises even them. Each viewpoint is distinct, and most characters are multifaceted. Most characters default to White.

A school story with a twist, told with humor, insight, and empathy. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-303279-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

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. 18, 2019

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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