And—where the characters in the first book were memorable, larger-than-life caricatures—Sport's mother here is merely a...

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SPORT

You'll remember Harriet the Spy's friend Sport Rocque as the eleven-year-old who keeps house and account books for his impractical writer father.

This takes place before Sport turns twelve (presumably then still in the Sixties, though there's an anachronistic reference to the hustle), during the weeks that Sport starts in at a new junior high school, his father marries a super, sympathetic lady named Kate, and his mother's father dies, leaving most of his immense fortune to Sport. But as Sport's mother's share of the inheritance will double if she stays home from her European jaunts to raise him, she proceeds to kidnap her unwilling son, locking him up first in his grandfather's home and later in the Plaza Hotel, from which Sport escapes in a food cart propelled by his friend Chi-Chi who's a bellhop there. (How he got the job at his age isn't considered.) The fast-paced story has its share of funny scenes, and fans of Harriet will be interested in Sport's own story—but it's a vastly inferior one, with nothing more on its mind than Sport's escape from his witchlike mother.

And—where the characters in the first book were memorable, larger-than-life caricatures—Sport's mother here is merely a predictable and uninteresting stereotype; Kate is too perfect an answer to the Rocques' prayers; and Sport's three friends—one Jewish, one black, and one Hispanic—seem an unrealistic vestige of naive Sixties didacticism.

Pub Date: May 30, 1979

ISBN: 978-0-440-41818-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1979

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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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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