DOUBLE FUDGE

Fudge Hatcher and his friends are back in the fifth installment of Blume’s popular series. Five-year-old Fudge’s newest obsession is money; he wants it so badly he even resorts to printing some of his own. On his first day of school, he finds a new friend, Richie Potter, who is endlessly interesting to Fudge: he’s wealthy and not embarrassed to talk about money the way Fudge’s family is. In order to take away some of the mystique about money, Fudge’s parents plan a family trip to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This does little to stem his interest, but it does allow Fudge’s father to run into a long-lost relative, Howie. This convenient coincidence pushes the narrative away from the story of Fudge and money to a rather unbelievable storyline. Howie’s family is made up of his pregnant wife Eudora, 12-year-old twins Flora and Fauna (also known as “the natural beauties”), and four-year-old Farley Drexel Hatcher, which is also Fudge’s real name. Howie insists on calling Fudge’s father Tubby, a not-so-subtle reference to Mr. Hatcher’s rotund childhood shape. The meandering plot turns into National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when the homeschooling Hawaiian Hatchers invite themselves to stay in the already-crowded apartment shared by Peter, Fudge, baby Tootsie, and their parents. The apartment is strained to the breaking point as the pushy visitors overstay their welcome, invite themselves to Peter’s school, and try everyone’s patience. Too much is going on here, both in the Hatcher household and in Blume’s story. Many of the plot strands are left hanging or are too neatly tied up. There’s the bird who mysteriously loses his power to speak, and the artist whose paintings are made up of baby’s footprints in paint. Add to that the Hawaiian cousins who sing showtunes. A few laughs can not redeem this busy, surprisingly unfunny book. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-525-46926-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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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 gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic.

A PINCH OF MAGIC

From the Pinch of Magic series , Vol. 1

When an ancient curse threatens her life and the lives of her sisters, Betty Widdershins seeks a way to break it.

Adventurous, 13-year-old Betty and her two sisters—Fliss, elder, and Charlie, younger—all live on the island of Crowstone in a decrepit village inn operated by their grandmother Bunny, who has always been strangely reluctant to let her granddaughters go anywhere. After Betty’s abortive attempt to surreptitiously leave Crowstone, Bunny reveals the family secret: All Widdershins girls have been under a curse for over 150 years. If one ever leaves Crowstone, she will die by the next sunset. Bunny gives Fliss a mirror, Betty nesting dolls, and Charlie a traveling bag, each containing a different magical power, to use if they need to hide or escape quickly. Intent on altering their fate, the sisters accidentally trigger the curse by leaving Crowstone while helping a young stranger escape from prison. For heroine Betty, who has “spent her life wishing for bigger things,” the imminent threat of losing her sisters proves life-changing. Facing death by the end of the day, Betty must rely on the magical objects, her sisters, and clever thinking to uncover the origins of the Widdershins curse while simultaneously confronting a rapid-fire series of perilous plot twists, betrayals, and shocking revelations in an effort to remake her family history. Betty and her family appear to be white.

A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-19331-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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