Mistake, Wisconsin

Despite the cute quips, the storyline lacks intrigue for a broader audience; best for readers fond of fishing, Wisconsin,...

A teenage blogger tries to bring down a crooked politician when scandal hits a fishing-obsessed community.

The founders of Mistake, Wisconsin, gave their city its name to discourage visitors. The plan backfired. Flocks of tourists frequent the small town to partake in every Mistakers’ favorite pastime: fishing. For them, it’s not just a hobby or an industry; it’s a livelihood that permeates every facet of life. Locals and visitors alike go for the muskellunge, a fish so prized it’s the high school mascot as well as the inspiration for hit songs (“Do The Musky”) and merchandise galore. When musky mailboxes start disappearing just days before the town’s annual Opening Day—a beloved holiday when the lakes open up for a season of musky fishing—Deputy Mayor Kenny “the Troll” Trollqvist points his finger at Mistake’s teenagers and cancels all Opening Day festivities. Fifteen-year-old Megan Svenson, a sassy blogger and bait store staffer, sets out to solve the mystery, expose the Troll’s crooked ways, and save the fishing celebration. Readers don’t have to wait long to find out whether the thieves are inebriated teens, territory-treading Chicagoans, or scheming city officials—turns out that’s not really the point of Niebruegge’s debut YA novel. Instead, she describes small-town shenanigans, all things fishing, and teenage observations of everyday life with an appealing satirical tone: “Like all crotchety old people, Mike spent most of the day complaining that the younger generation was ruining America with their electronic devices, optimism, and viral cat videos,” and “Our community hasn’t been so terrorized since the Fourth of July chipmunk infestation of 1974.” But all this comedy doesn’t wash away the book’s duller aspects, such as a brief but slow opening chapter that details Mistake’s geographical features and historical roots, a major plotline involving building permits, and extensive back stories for seemingly every town tradition and institution.

Despite the cute quips, the storyline lacks intrigue for a broader audience; best for readers fond of fishing, Wisconsin, and small-town quirks.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0990871019

Page Count: 160

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


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

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. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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