Rohan weaves an engaging, imaginative tapestry.

WEAVERWORLD

GRIMSNIPE'S REVENGE

A preteen uses intriguing imaginative skill to learn courage, hard work and the power of imagination itself.

As an 11-year-old, Jack Andrew Fisher seemingly has little interest in matters of intellect; he simply wants to go to summer skateboard camp, regardless of what his report card says. He escapes from his boring family reunion by sneaking into his grandmother’s attic, when a bizarre event portals him to a world of unfamiliar people, bizarre creatures and benevolent/malevolent beings. He receives a generous tourist pass and is taken in by both the good-natured Widget Family and the curmudgeonly but virtuous Aladdeus Gaelblade. Jack learns that the people in his newfound world have a special gift of weaving—the ability to summon one’s imagination to create things. One must use weaving for only good purposes, of course, with the quality of the finished product dependent upon the weaver’s personal character and diligence. The tale skillfully builds when the reader learns that quality weaving will inevitably be required to thwart the revenge of the evil Grimsnipe. Rohan combines all the elements of basic fantasy—a young hero, mentors, villains, something to be saved, special powers and, of course, magical creatures—with the more elusive combination of great storytelling that appeals to a wide audience. The book’s combination of action, political intrigue with corruption, a love story (or stories), a bit of nostalgia and an endearing dog will certainly appeal to both boys and girls. The alternate world mingles quasi-historical fiction with fantasy, as men tip their hats to ladies, horses are used instead of cars and bread is baked fresh in the home. The fantasy cleverly parallels our contemporary world in notions such as terror and readily presenting one’s identification—a trend, indeed, of both reality and the genre. The number of characters and their qualities is significant but never the overwhelming amount characteristic of some stories in the genre. Humor is also judicious and subtle, as in the brainless, pear-shaped Bluntogs. It may be ironic that the epilogue is almost too explanatory; however, the theme of imagination’s creative power is enough to inspire the anticipation of an even bigger climax in a potential sequel.

Rohan weaves an engaging, imaginative tapestry.

Pub Date: March 21, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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