A charmingly clever ode to backyard camping and the fun of spending time in nature, with a good bit of humor rolled into its...

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Oh So Quiet!

Two scared campers encounter a frightening creature in Craig’s (Farmyard Beat, 2012, etc.) picture book with illustrations from Dunkley (Twenty Poems for Boys, 2016, etc.).

As the story opens, an illustration of a sleeping owl accompanies a phrase that repeats throughout the book: “Oh the forest is so quiet, oh so quiet in the night.” Then there’s a strange flapping noise, and two boys in a tent look out into the darkness to figure out what’s lurking there. The illustration for the first noise shows clearly that the flapping sound is just coming from a bat—a typical forest animal with a friendly expression. Soon the refrain repeats against a backdrop of the boys playing cards in their well-lit tent as an old, well-loved teddy bear looks over their shoulders. Once again, a noise startles them; this time, they discover a group of well-dressed, squeaky mice playing on a leaf trampoline. The boys return to their tent, and a third noise startles them back out—the howling of two foxes, which has them just about ready to give up on their outdoor adventure. But then one of the boys sees what he thinks is a squirrel and grins at their silliness. Of course, it’s a skunk that sprays, and the noises all return, sending the boys into a tizzy. Luckily, Daddy’s on hand to keep the boys brave—until, that is, a bear shows up. Daddy and the boys head home to the comfy indoors, but all the noisy forest animals are equally startled, leading to a twist that will surprise both young readers and grown-ups. The limited vocabulary and repeating text make this book a good confidence-builder for newly independent readers, and lap readers will enjoy chiming in with their parents. But the real fun is the storytelling in Dunkley’s illustrations, which offer much detail and humor, whether it’s in the boys' reactions or in the playfulness of the animals. The color palate and adorable animal characters will have young readers poring over the pictures even if they can’t read it on their own. The surprising plot twists—and text that’s uncomplicated without being boring—will make adults glad to return to this bedtime story with their children.

A charmingly clever ode to backyard camping and the fun of spending time in nature, with a good bit of humor rolled into its colorful illustrations.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9967212-0-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlbop Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship.

MARCUS MAKES A MOVIE

Marcus, obsessed with making comics, finds new ambitions for his superhero character Toothpick when he joins an after-school filmaking club.

Always-working comedian Hart enters the children’s-literature world with this middle-grade novel uplifting one of the profound life lessons that helped catapult him to global superstardom. It’s certainly not a biography, but one can see the shades of reality, with a young Black boy who’s short and funny making his way into film. Marcus’ gift for storytelling is nurtured by his love of making comics (represented visually throughout by Cooper). Readers come to understand how these creative acts help process stress and grief via striking conversations between Marcus and his loving father that also show the critical importance of developing emotional language. After an inspiring first day of film class, Marcus declares that he will make the most awesome movie ever—but there’s a gigantic difference between making comics and making a movie: You can’t make a movie alone. He’s going to have to work with peers who challenge him. Through Marcus’ experiences, young readers will learn about the many different concepts, tools, and techniques that are part of the behind-the-camera filmmaking endeavor. Unfortunately, lumping Toni Morrison in with William Shakespeare as just another “dead author” is a distasteful moment in an otherwise enjoyable read. The book adheres to a Black default.

A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17914-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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