In his first children's book, a noted cartoonist and playwright wisely essays what he's always done best—a satirical, somewhat jaundiced take on the contemporary human condition, exemplified here by aspiring cartoonist Jimmy Jibbett and his family. The result isn't strong on plot, though there's enough to carry the reader along: seeking his artistic identity, Jimmy ponders the differences between his uptight businessman dad and fashion designer mom; tries an uncomfortable collaboration with a charismatic older boy (still a preteen) who turns out to be a clod; gets moral support from a flamboyant older sister whose one fault is her truly terrible temper; and, most significantly, observes Uncle Lester, after years of effort, take a play to Broadway to universal applause—except from the critics. The play closes; Lester desponds; Jimmy not only comes up with his very own cartoon superhero (see title) but, with the perseverance Lester prescribed, learns to draw hands—a success that lifts Lester out of his doldrums. Lester's story threatens to take over, though it's germane to Jimmy's and seen from his point of view; best here, though, are the incisive takes on characters and relationships—and Feiffer's splendidly vital depictions of them, in a fiendishly agile line (plus Jimmy's rougher strips, believably boyish yet deft). Wordy—like being buttonholed by a witty, but garrulous, raconteur—but fun. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-205035-4

Page Count: 186

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1993

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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