The sky’s the limit for this winning, winsome, wee mollusk.

READ REVIEW

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON

THINGS ABOUT ME

A perky anthropomorphic shell named Marcel introduces readers to his highly original universe in this quirky spin-off from the 2010 Stop Motion animated short film of the same name.

With one large eye, a mouth and a pair of scuffed red-and-white shoes, univalve Marcel confidently asserts, “I like myself.” Speaking in the first person, present tense, Marcel isn’t afraid to express himself. He loves where he lives, sleeps between two pieces of bread known as his “Breadroom” and often visits the “aquarium” (a goldfish bowl). Which amusement ride is he afraid to go on? The salad spinner. What’s his favorite ride? The ladle. How does he dry off? Dives into the sock drawer. What does he use as a helmet when scaling a high-heeled sandal? A pistachio shell. Created from a series of multicolor paintings resembling fuzzy interior photographs, clever illustrations serve as strikingly realistic backdrops for Marcel with his fantastical props and playthings, providing visual clues about the actual scale of his diminutive world. Like a camera lens, illustrations zoom in and out on Marcel, confidently perched atop books, dragging his lint dog on a hair leash, standing defiantly beneath a toilet bowl or tucked into his Breadroom as he revels in his one-of-a-kind life.

The sky’s the limit for this winning, winsome, wee mollusk. (Picture book. 5 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59514-455-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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