The story perfectly captures Asaf's transition from a love of objects to a thirst for knowledge that goes beyond physical...

THE ARTIFACTS

This beautiful, resonant story about the way we leave behind childish things (but never really abandon them) delivers a specific, potent experience unusual even for the best iPad apps.

Asaf, a bespectacled boy who is turning 13, is obsessed with art and antiques, and they soon clutter his room. When his family moves, his parents take the opportunity to remove the clutter and urge Asaf to keep a neat space. In true teenage fashion, Asaf wallows in grief and drama over the change, but in time he learns that his growing mind can store more objects (albeit imaginary) and ideas than the biggest bedroom ever could. The evocative, painted artwork throughout the story is dark and moody, which makes the occasional flashes of humor all the more enjoyable. At one point, Asaf imagines a ramshackle cottage surrounded by fearsome bears... and one silly chicken, standing upright. He ends up writing a short story featuring the clucking creature. Interactive features enhance the story rather than distract from it. A sink pours out hot and cold words from two faucets instead of water ("Interest" / "Worry"; "Pleasure" / "Contempt"). A clothesline of wiggling shadows hangs across Asaf's bedroom. "He stepped on shadows to snag them... then strung them across his ceiling with imaginary pegs and imaginary twine." Touching the shadows makes them spookily float toward the reader and disappear.

The story perfectly captures Asaf's transition from a love of objects to a thirst for knowledge that goes beyond physical things. The app shows a remarkable sensitivity to this volatile moment and does it with style and grace. (iPad storybook app. 8-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Slap Happy Larry

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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