An appealing work that has fun with its concept.



In this picture book, rhyming verses paint amusing mini-portraits of kids working and playing.

In Phillips’ debut collection, each two- to eight-line-long poem begins with a child’s first name that’s repeated, with illustrations on the facing page. A typical verse reads “Mandy Mandy eats cotton candy at the county fair. / Her dad buys tickets and she rides the rides. / She plays a game and she wins a prize. / Mandy Mandy likes cotton candy and loves going to the fair.” Most verses, as in this example, feature an internal rhyme with the name in the first line. Phillips employs no particular metrical scheme throughout, making his lines as short or as long as he needs. This makes them less satisfying, as they lack regular meter’s neatness and inevitability. The rhymes can be clever, though—“Luigi Luigi uses a squeegee”; “Dante Dante eats picante.” The somewhat flat but colorful illustrations reflect diversity, although they’re sometimes stereotypical: Wong, for example, plays ping pong and Jamal plays basketball, and one rhyme insists that all girls love shopping. Still, the names are well-varied, including “Ming” and “Shawntay” alongside “Laura” and “Bill.” Kids will likely enjoy searching for their own names or making up rhymes of their own—a good rainy-day activity.

An appealing work that has fun with its concept.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2017


Page Count: 21

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


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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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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