Funny and accessible.



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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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.


From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Not up to the original—leave it on the shelf and find a recording of the real Abbott and Costello.


One of the funniest comedy routines ever to be heard doesn’t successfully translate to print although nearly every word is intact.

Abbott appears as a red-nosed bear, and Costello is a hapless rabbit, with both creatures dressed in striped shirts and red baseball caps. The dialogue is variously presented in word bubbles, boxes or “shouted” in explosive, full-page format, with all the text in sizes appropriate to the characters’ levels of frustration. Superbright green, yellow, red and blue backgrounds make it all pop. But in book form, the dialogue comes off as merely amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, partly since in its original form it was completely auditory. The two men delivered the lines in fast-paced, smartly timed patter with voice inflections indicating annoyance, anger, impatience or resignation. The fun was in the misunderstanding of the wordplay. While Martz’s cartoon animals indicate their emotions in their body language and facial expressions, it’s just a little flat. In addition, depicting each player as an animal (Who is a snake, What is a dog, etc.) makes it possible for readers to actually visualize a “real” team and diminishes the wordplay. To work at all, it must be read aloud in two distinct, enthusiastic voices so young readers can share the experience.

Not up to the original—leave it on the shelf and find a recording of the real Abbott and Costello.   (afterword, biographical notes) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59474-590-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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