MY SPECIAL BEST WORDS

The special best words reported here are purportedly those of Steptoe's own family, as are the names of the two children, Javaka and his older sister Bweela who tell us that Daddy's best word is ILOVEYOU though he has others he says when he's mad wit' somebody. Gunkie who takes care of the children when Daddy works also says ILOVEYOU along with SSSHTHELADYDOWNSTAIRSISSLEEPIN'; Javaka's best words is (sic) TAKEABREAK and SPAGHETTIOS and PICKMEUPDADDY, and Bweela's own include WHATSHAPPENINMAN and PRETTYFUL. There's no plot line — just Bweela's view of an average day which includes a car ride to Gunkie's, a chicken, mashie and cranberry sauce dinner cooked by Dad, and Javaka making stink in his pamper. The language and activities couldn't be more ordinary, and it's odd perhaps that when the author's stated intent is to convey the naturalness of natural functions he depicts his photo-realistic children with a zappy neon glow (as though seen on a maladjusted color TV) so that even the green "boogas, nasty boogas" running from Javaka's nose are more fluorescent than realistically snotty. Of course Steptoe has always wielded a heavy hand with both his paints and, less impressively but just as boldly, his messages.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1974

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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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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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