This mystery/animal/humor/environment story starts off with a bang—make that a chimp! “On a Dark and Noisy Night,” a weird scientist friend of Rachel’s father pounds on their door at 2:00 in the morning and insists they keep his lab chimp for a week while he’s gone. He offers no explanations because it’s TOP SECRET! Rachel, 12, and her brother Jared, 9, immediately adore the chimp, which they name Friday. At first they try to keep Friday secret, but when the scientist is found dead from slipping on a banana peel, Rachel intuitively knows there’s a plot at work. Ensuing events build the tension: someone keeps trying to chimp-nap Friday; Rachel salvages her sabotaged Earth Day project, “Honey, I Shrunk the Habitat,” by using Friday as a live demonstration; Friday’s increasing displays of intelligence—typing BANANA on the computer and solving Rubik’s Cube; and assorted suspicious lurkers around the apartment building. Set in New York’s Upper West Side, Rachel is a contemporary cross between Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy. Her detective antics will have kids speed-reading to solve the mystery. An author’s note substantiates that she raised a chimp in a Manhattan apartment and her experience as a TV comedy writer accounts for the fast pace, pun-filled scenes, and snappy dialogue. The attention-grabbing cover and immensely popular premise will likely have kids going bananas over this fun story that’s ready-made for movie land. (Side note: the page design alternately prints the author’s name and book title on every page—annoying and unnecessary.) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83837-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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