An enjoyable debut book for intermediate readers, but a stronger edit might have maximized its appeal.

Jennie Fowler, Nighttime Prowler

FOWLER & FRIENDS SERIES BOOK 1

A little girl’s friends and siblings scheme to keep her sleepwalking habit under control in this debut children’s chapter book.

Jennie is finally old enough to go to summer camp, but her mom won’t let her go. She’s afraid Jennie will walk in her sleep, get lost in the woods and be eaten by a bear. However, when the little girl’s sleepwalking habit and talent for painting combine, it attracts the notice of the summer camp’s director and drama teacher, who happen to live in the same apartment building. They convince Jennie’s mother that she will be safe. Meanwhile, Jennie’s siblings and friends, led by an enterprising girl named Trinity (who carries her pet fish’s bowl around with her), formulate plans to keep the sleepwalking Jennie in her cabin at night. Using yarn, duct tape, assorted maracas and “a CD with tranquil nature sounds,” they execute their projects, dubbed “Operation Web,” “Operation Honey Bear,” “Operation Blue Fish” and “Operation Maraca,” which have mixed results. Their adventures eventually involve an unexpected outing for Fin the fish, a game of T-ball and an annoying boy nicknamed “Spaghetti Nose.” Young readers will undoubtedly enjoy spending time with Jennie and friends in this first installment in a series. However, there are some errors in the otherwise clean, readable text, including a few glaring slips: “peaked with curiosity” instead of “piqued” and multiple misspellings of “leeches” as “leaches.” Readers may also find Jennie’s very brief encounter with a denizen of the woods to be an anticlimactic finale.

An enjoyable debut book for intermediate readers, but a stronger edit might have maximized its appeal.

Pub Date: July 28, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Cathydia Press

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2014

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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS!

Another Seuss-chimera joins the ranks of the unforgettable Herlar and with the advent of the Grinch— a sort of Yule Ghoul who lives in a cave just north of who-ville. While all the Who's made ready on Christmas Eve the Grinch donned a Santa-Claus disguise. In gurgling verse at a galloping gait, we learn how the Grinch stole the "presents, the ribbons, the wrappings, the tags, the tinsel and trappings," from all the Who's. But the Grinch's heart (two sizes too small) melted just in time when he realized that the Who's enjoyed Christmas without any externals. Youngsters will be in transports over the goofy gaiety of Dr. Seuss's first book about a villain — easily the best Christmas-cad since Scrooge. Inimitable Seuss illustrations of the Grinch's dog Max disguised as a reindeer are in black and white with touches of red. Irrepressible and irresistible.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1957

ISBN: 0394800796

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1957

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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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