For those approaching or in the scrum of middle school, a positive reminder that the perfect middle school experience does...

With age-appropriate humor and insight, veteran teacher Reynolds offers advice aimed at assisting young people as they trek through the minefield that is middle school.

Honest in tone but with an acute sense of the ridiculous (the trope of garlic-bread–stealing space gnomes is overused), the short chapters contain stories from the author’s own middle school experience or his imagination, a narrative approach that will appeal to fans of books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Short chapters on bullying, peer pressure, grades, dealing with parents and teachers, and more are sprinkled with accessible and pertinent quotes and end with exercises to try. The topic of sex is excluded, gearing the book to younger readers—especially those who enjoy scatological goofiness. Reynolds takes on the media, imagining a fictitious Mr. Buttmuncher at its head, to encourage kids to think for themselves. While playful black-and-white cartoon illustrations and doodles add to the zaniness, the messages are worthy and clear: be yourself; practice empathy; work hard; hug your parents. A list of recommended books and movies is appended.

For those approaching or in the scrum of middle school, a positive reminder that the perfect middle school experience does not exist . (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58270-555-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Beyond Words/Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016



The most reluctant of readers will find it difficult to resist this consistently disgusting chronicle of the gruesome deaths of 19 famous people. Bragg opens with King Tut, discussing in gory details the embalming and mummification processes of the ancient Egyptians. Among the many macabre details is an explanation for why mummy eye sockets look empty: "Eyeballs shrink to almost nothing during the drying process" (the author notes that if mummy eyeballs are rehydrated, they return to almost normal size). Among the other famous figures profiled are Henry VIII, whose corpse exploded in its coffin while lying in state; George Washington, who was drained of 80 ounces of his blood by doctors before dying; and Marie Curie, who did herself in with constant radiation exposure. The accounts of how ill or injured people were treated by doctors through the 19th century reveal that medical practices were usually more lethal than the maladies. Between each chapter, there is a page or two of related and gleefully gross facts. Bragg's informal, conversational style and O'Malley's cartoon illustrations complement the flippant approach to the subject; the energetically icky design includes little skulls and crossbones to contain page numbers. Engaging, informative and downright disgusting. (sources, further reading, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9817-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011



Hank Greenberg was an anomaly who challenged the stereotypes of his era. He was a Jewish boy from New York City who was neither weak nor small nor academically inclined. He was well over 6 feet tall, strong and healthy, and he could hit a baseball as well as or better than most major leaguers. He played with the Detroit Tigers, leading his team to several pennants and World Series. Throughout his career there were cheers, but he also had to endure endless, vitriolic anti-Semitic curses. His decision to miss a season-ending game in a tight pennant race in order to observe Yom Kippur became a national issue. At the end of his own career, with customary grace and integrity, he openly empathized with rookie Jackie Robinson, encouraging him to persevere. In many ways this is a typical baseball biography, covering Greenberg’s accomplishments season by season, as well as his family life and military service in World War II. Sommer ably puts it all in perspective for young readers. Employing straightforward, accessible language, she carefully incorporates historic events, well illustrated with personal and archival photographs and laced with copious quotes from Greenberg and his contemporaries. The result is a multilayered portrait of a man who was content being remembered as a great Jewish ballplayer. (source notes, bibliography, resources) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59078-452-5

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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