An enjoyable book for young readers ready for mild scares.

READ REVIEW

ONE CREEPY STREET

ANNICA'S BROOM

Don’t text and drive—or fly. In his debut picture book, Jordan shows that it’s a lesson a witch is never too young to learn.

Annica lives on One Creepy Street, where her neighbors are “wizards and lizards and a mean old warlock. / Some were weird and others plain scary, / A few had retired including an evil tooth fairy.” When she turns 13, her mother lets her set off on a new broom all by herself, but warns her to keep her eyes on the road—well, the sky—and her hands off her phone. It’s easy to guess how long young Annica’s resolve lasts on that count. Almost immediately, she crashes out of the sky and finds herself looking into the frightening face of Officer Tate. The one-eyed policeman “gnawed on the [rotten] apple with his jaw set firm, / and between his teeth was crawling one-half of a worm.” Jordan doesn’t shy away from details that young readers will find deliciously creepy. Officer Tate takes Annica to find someone on One Creepy Street who can help her fix her broom. A purplish troll chained to a bridge “snorted and grumped and swatted a nagging horse fly. / The carcass fell into the pan, a new seasoning to try.” But the troll refuses to help her, as does Mort the Mortician and a diabolical fallen elf who delights in breaking limbs off dolls. Annica’s plight prompts the elf toward his own epiphany: He’s sick of being bad and willing to help her out, if it means a chance to go back to the North Pole. In any case, as Officer Tate points out, Annica has learned her lesson. Jordan creates a satisfyingly detailed world on One Creepy Street, filled with characters who could have been easy clichés but are instead fresh and a little bit funny. He keeps the creep factor age-appropriate, while giving gross-out–loving kids exactly what they want. The singsong tone wears thin, and there are places where the meanings of words are stretched a tad too far just to make a rhyme, but the plot and characters move quickly enough to carry the book, and the brightly colored illustrations feature characters with extremely detailed and expressive faces.

An enjoyable book for young readers ready for mild scares. 

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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

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. 19, 2019

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