One rotten apple aside, a second helping of tasty treats.

COMICS SQUAD #2

LUNCH!

The Comics Squad moves from Recess! (2014) to an even more popular theme with a fresh set of minicomics created by a (mostly) fresh slate of artists.

Most of the eight entries at least start in the lunchroom: the Holms’ Babymouse and friends defend their accustomed table (unsuccessfully) against rivals in a dodgeball duel; Cece Bell’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Lunch” features a boy-dazzled picky eater whose courage is goosed by a hallucinatory episode; Krosoczka dishes up a Lunch Lady origin story with “Lunch Girl” battling a bully. Further afield, Nathan Hale retells a true World War II battle tale involving a Japanese submarine and hurled potatoes, and Jeffrey Brown follows a pair of adolescent Neanderthals gathering ingredients for “Cave Soup.” A multistranded detective tale by Jason Shiga is hard to digest, as it is presented in many small, out-of-order panels linked by arrows and so requires much flipping back and forth. But the real bomb comes from “Peanuts Worldwide LLC” (the actual creators are named only in the closing author notes). Reading like a clumsy sendup, it features Snoopy creating lunchroom chaos with a mop while making silent comments like “The Head Beagle values cleanliness… / but won’t cross the unions!” One can imagine what Charles Schulz would say.

One rotten apple aside, a second helping of tasty treats. (Graphic anthology. 7-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51264-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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