Funny, eccentric, and unique, this exceptionally designed work has universal appeal.

READ REVIEW

THE BARBER'S DILEMMA

AND OTHER STORIES FROM MANMARU STREET

Observations and fancy take flight in Oguma’s collection of musings from Manmaru Street, Tokyo.

Oguma’s doodles take on a life of their own in this nonlinear tale. Magic pockets produce snakes and crocodiles; a soup’s seaweed chats away; and hats made of cream or cheese and slides made of candy seem unremarkable. Each spread contains an idiosyncratic slice of life. From the imaginative, droll text (rendered in English by Wolf) to the collection’s layout, readers may draw parallels to Shel Silverstein; however, Oguma’s vignettes are told in a stream-of-consciousness style, matching the spontaneity of his art. The playful illustrations blend a loose figurative style with abstract patterning. Pencil and watercolors in a pastel palette showcase Oguma’s expressive style. A young woman loves mushrooms so much that her boyfriend appears in a mushroom costume and bearing a giant mushroom, prompting the question, “So what does Mr. Kiyota’s girlfriend like better?” Studying the picture of the two, readers see his mushroom-patterned garb, which blends with the enormous mushroom he holds; his girlfriend’s speech bubble, full of nothing but mushrooms, hovers over his head, making it look itself like a giant mushroom. As with Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, readers may enjoy one or many spreads at a time—the treasures within beckon repeat visits and offer inspiration for the classroom or artist.

Funny, eccentric, and unique, this exceptionally designed work has universal appeal. (Picture book. 5-adult)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-93-83145-65-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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