Bravo! Where so many earnest Shakespeare adaptations flop, this series bids fair to light genuine enthusiasm in young...

THE STRATFORD ZOO MIDNIGHT REVUE PRESENTS ROMEO AND JULIET

From the Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue series

The animal thespians at the Stratford Zoo perform yet another of the Bard's tragedies, this time with a rooster and a bear in the title roles.

After their successful production of Macbeth (2014), the inhabitants of the Stratford Zoo decide to tackle another one of Shakespeare's most recognized plays. Their version casts the Capulets as bears that belong to a group called Wilders, or animals that live freely out in the forest, and the Montagues as roosters, belonging to the Petters, farm animals residing at the Verona Petting Zoo. The star-crossed pair meet at a costume party, where Juliet is dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and Romeo has opted for the not-so-clever disguise of a mask over his eyes. Here, Romeo and Juliet are destined to be best friends rather than lovers, and the “tragic” conclusion involves induced hibernation rather than suicide, making this splendidly approachable—and adeptly not watered-down—for younger readers. While the revue's players are funny in their own rights, subplots that flare up among the audience members prove just as amusing. Bright and bold illustrations splash across each page, utilizing a variety of panel shapes, sizes, and full-page spreads to create a visually enticing backdrop. Fans of the series, leave the hankies at home: the zoo's next performance promises to be a comedy.

Bravo! Where so many earnest Shakespeare adaptations flop, this series bids fair to light genuine enthusiasm in young readers. (Graphic fantasy/classic. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-916-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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

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. 19, 2019

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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