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JUST ROLL WITH IT

From the Just Roll With It series , Vol. 1

An accessible, compassionate story of growth and learning.

Maggie enters middle school and soon realizes that the 20-sided die she rolls to make decisions doesn’t always work.

Maggie Sankhar is both excited and nervous to be starting sixth grade. On the one hand, she quickly makes a new friend, Clara, who encourages her to join the RPG club—but on the other hand, she encounters bullies, and mastering all the new routines can feel intimidating. Most of all, Maggie often holds herself back because she fears things will go awry if the number on the die isn’t favorable. She also internalizes pressure to live up to her older sisters’ seemingly unattainable achievements, even as her caring family recognizes that her struggles go beyond the ordinary and that she may benefit from therapy. Maggie is reluctant, but her therapist is reassuring and supportive. Maggie’s character is well developed, and her arc shows what living with mental illness can look like day to day. The depiction of OCD is thoughtful, and the lively, expressive illustrations show Maggie’s stress and worry—as well as many moments of fun with her new friends. This is a thoughtful and engaging account of a preteen navigating mental illness in a world that leaves her constantly doubting herself. Maggie and her family read as South Asian; brown-skinned Clara has two moms, one of Maggie’s older sisters has a girlfriend, and the girls’ school is multiethnic.

An accessible, compassionate story of growth and learning. (design process, author's note) (Graphic fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12541-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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