Tom may be brilliant, but he’s unlikely to unseat Greg Heffley in American hearts.



The winner of the 2011 Roald Dahl Funny Prize for readers ages 7 to 11 makes its way across the pond.

In this British contribution to the Wimpy Kid bandwagon, Tom doodles his school days away, fails to do his homework, schemes to get the upper hand on twit Marcus Meldrew, tries to attract the attention of lovely Amy Porter, jockeys for tickets to the Dude3 concert, designs logos for his band, DogZombies, and annoys his older sister, Delia. His account is set in a typeface named for the author (generated from her handwriting, perhaps?) and is liberally illustrated with Tom’s cartoons and doodles. Some of his artistic tics are pretty funny: When he refers to his teacher’s gaze, he adds two little eyeballs as visual punctuation; goth Delia’s expression hardly ever changes, even when she’s feeling “jolly”; particularly embarrassing moments are labeled “shame” with little arrows. The book has been unevenly Americanized, leaching from it some of its potential distinctiveness. Most insultingly, “Mum” is now “Mom,” but some terms found in the glossary such as “biscuit” and “jumper” have been translated in the text as “cookie” and “sweater,” rendering those entries rather baffling. Although Tom’s account is diarylike, it is undated, making it feel like the book’s action is much shorter than the school term it evidently spans.

Tom may be brilliant, but he’s unlikely to unseat Greg Heffley in American hearts. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7472-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

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Every girl should be so lucky as to have such a papi.


A screaming, bright-blue comet zooms through the streets of Corona, California, in a race against the orange setting sun.

A unicorn-decorated purple helmet can’t hide the grin of the young girl tightly gripping the waist of her carpenter father, who’s hunched over his blazing motorcycle as a comet tail of sawdust streams behind them. Basking in her father’s wordless expression of love, she watches the flash of colors zip by as familiar landmarks blend into one another. Changes loom all around them, from the abandoned raspado (snow cone) shop to the housing construction displacing old citrus groves. Yet love fills in the spaces between nostalgia and the daily excitement of a rich life shared with neighbors and family. Quintero’s homage to her papi and her hometown creates a vivid landscape that weaves in and out of her little-girl memory, jarring somewhat as it intersects with adult recollections. At the end, her family buys raspados from a handcart—are the vendor and defunct shop’s owner one and the same? Peña’s comic-book–style illustrations capture cultural-insider Mexican-American references, such as a book from Cathy Camper and Raúl the Third’s Lowrider series and the Indigenous jaguar mask on the protagonist’s brother’s T-shirt. Dialogue in speech bubbles incorporates both Spanish and English, and the gist of the conversation is easily followed; a fully Spanish edition releases simultaneously.

Every girl should be so lucky as to have such a papi. (Picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55341-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...


From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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