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BESTIES FIND THEIR GROOVE

From the World of Click series

Insightful and affirming.

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. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

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. 18, 2019

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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