BESTIES FIND THEIR GROOVE

From the World of Click series

Pressures mount as a school dance approaches.

Twelve-year-old best friends Chanda and Beth can hardly wait: It’s nearly time for their first dance at Bushmiller Middle School! After seeing her seemingly perfect older sister’s high school dance pics, Chanda decides she and Beth must find dates. They begin their “Boy Safari” but find things do not go as planned when their prospects see their insincerity. The girls also have a hard time finding dresses: Beth, who is fat, cannot find a dress that fits as she’d like, and Chanda wants something that encapsulates the desi fashion she loves. When Beth eventually gets asked to the dance and Chanda does not, a rift opens up between them. Miller and Canino’s sequel to Besties Work It Out (2021) explores not only Beth and Chanda’s friendship, but also their dynamics with their mothers and sisters. Those familiar with Miller's other books will recognize her trademark gentle conflict resolution; the novel also gently probes themes like embracing one’s cultural heritage and body positivity (all culminating in a delightful school dance scene. Luu’s illustrations (with color by Beatty) are reminiscent enough of Miller’s from her Click series but also have their own unique panache to set this series apart and give it its own flair. Beth is White; Chanda is Indian American.

Insightful and affirming. (Q&A with Miller, Canino, Luu, and Beatty; sketches and color samples for the book cover; character design sketches; step-by-step creation of a sample page) (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-52116-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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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 solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

ALMOST SUPER

Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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