CLASS B.U.R.P.

From the Barftastic Life of Louie Burger series , Vol. 2

Aspiring elementary school comedian Louie Burger is back, this time tackling popularity.

Following The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger (2013), Louie’s favorite comedian, Lou Lafferman, airs the video of Louie barfing at the school talent show. Louie’s brush with fame wins him public recognition from adults, but more importantly, it makes him interesting enough that the other kids talk to him instead of ignoring or bullying him—with the exception of cardboard bully Ryan Rakefield, of course. When it looks like his 15 minutes are about to expire, Louie becomes obsessed with recapturing his fleeting popularity. His older sister, Ari, hilariously explains the three ways of winning popularity: make people fear you, make people love you or get a temporary “popularity bump”—Louie’s television cameo being one such bump. When attempts to force another bump fail miserably, he decides that the best way to achieve lasting popularity (and the subsequent protection from bullying and mockery that it brings) is to win the vote to become the class marshal for the school Halloween parade—an open popularity contest. His campaign to win leads him to neglect his best friends, Nick and Thermos, shockingly. Eventually, Louie reconciles being his weird self with being popular, as well as learning a lesson on valuing friends over popularity. Though the lessons are obvious, they are conveyed easily, and Louie is an appealingly flawed character.

Funny and accessible. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-30521-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. .

THE CONTRACT

For his eponymous imprint, the New York Yankees star leads off with a self-referential tale of Little League triumphs.

In the first of a projected 10 episodes based on the same number of “Life Lessons” espoused by the lead author’s Turn 2 Foundation, third-grader Derek turns in an essay announcing that his dream is to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (No. 1 on the Turn 2 list: “Set your goals high”). His parents take him seriously enough not only to present him with a “contract” that promises rewards for behaviors like working hard and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but also to put a flea in the ear of his teacher after she gives him a B-minus on the essay for being unrealistic. Derek then goes on to pull up his math grade. He also proceeds to pull off brilliant plays for his new Little League team despite finding himself stuck at second base while the coach’s son makes multiple bad decisions at shortstop and, worse, publicly puts down other team members. Jeter serves as his own best example of the chosen theme’s theoretical validity, but as he never acknowledges that making the majors (in any sport) requires uncommon physical talent as well as ambition and determination, this values-driven pitch is well out of the strike zone.

Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. . (foundation ad and curriculum guide, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2312-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Jeter/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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