Everyone should have an UnStealer in the house.

THE UNSTEALER

A spooky gentleman with a Salvador Dali mustache comes to clear away those pesky un's that frustrate, anger and rob us of our confidence.

The writer/artist Wilson team—whom readers learn on the credits page were unintelligent, untalented and unlucky in love before the UnStealer came to the rescue—here produce a serious gem. The UnStealer steals and collects un's: large, medium and small, upper- or lowercase, bold or italicized (all illustrated by a touch of the finger). He can make unsure and unfriendly and untrained into sure and friendly and trained with a swish of his butterfly net or a flick of his fishhook. A party with an unhappy clown, a woman who is undecided about her outfit and an unfriendly junkyard dog named Chompy all need the UnStealer to get back on track. The Wilsons have a merry time with wordplay—“under the feetkerchiefs and next to the gooey giggle gag, between the wiggly sticks and on top of his coo-coo kazoo”—and a good sense of internal rhymes. The art is sweetly drawn and sophisticated, with bleeding watercolors as dazzling as geological specimens—malachite, lapis, sulfur—and collages that create an exotic yet welcoming atmosphere. The interplay between user and application is surprisingly deep and frequently, er, unexpected.

Everyone should have an UnStealer in the house. (iPad storybook app. 4-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Joshua Wilson

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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