A study in parodic mayhem.

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STINKBOMB & KETCHUP-FACE AND THE BADNESS OF BADGERS

From the Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face series , Vol. 1

Upon orders from the king of Great Kerfuffle, white siblings Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face embark on a taleworthy quest to rid their home of mischievous badgers.

Take a dollop of Jon Scieszka’s classic fairy-tale sendups, add a swirl of M.T. Anderson’s humorously perilous quests, garnish with a Snicket-ian narrator’s crumbled fourth wall, and you have the hilarious first adventure of Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face on the island of Great Kerfuffle. With their parents conveniently out of the way until the end of the story, the sibling duo awakens to find $20 has been pilfered from Stinkbomb’s piggy bank, and the only obvious suspects (once they rule out Ketchup-Face, of course) are a band of badgers. Taking their complaint to the king (also white), they are, in turn, sent to rid the kingdom of the badgers, but the pair’s quarry is nothing if not wicked (“if they weren’t bad, they’d just be gers”). Even with a cat army, a sentient shopping cart, and every story trope on their side, Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face may be outmatched. With metafictive flare, a truly expert deployment of absurdity, and an unrelenting song about jam, Dougherty’s narrative is as self-reflexive and entrancing as a Penrose staircase, populated with delightfully inscrutable characters and brought to rollicking life with Ricks’ spot illustrations.

A study in parodic mayhem. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99662-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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