Solid information presented with humor and energy.

PUNCTUATION FOR PRESIDENT

Inspired by a classroom election, punctuation marks decide to run for office in this picture book.

It’s the start of a new school year, and Miss Marks tells her students that they’ll begin by choosing a class president: “We’ll have a campaign and an election just like our country does every four years.” The kids decide on some important presidential qualities—strong leadership, kindness, and intelligence, for example—and the class nominates Bridget and Noah. Looking on, the punctuation marks think it would be fun to have their own election, so they convene in the coat closet. Apostrophe nominates Exclamation Point for his power and confidence (“I will be the best President ever!!!”) and Comma backs Question Mark (“Do you really believe in my leadership?”). The marks notice that the children’s campaign signs, lacking the proper punctuation, are confusing, so they quickly vote and return to the classroom; the corrected signs now make sense. Two final notes explain more about punctuation and democracy. By anthropomorphizing punctuation marks and linking them to the election drama, Reed (Thomas Turkey’s Terrible Tricks, 2017, etc.) is able to make a rather dry subject entertaining and fun, giving each mark an appropriate personality. The period, for example, is fussy and likes to put a stop to things: “Let’s stop the madness. Now.” The author’s faux-naïve illustrations, showing both humans and marks in a range of skin shades, are bright and fairly bounce off the page.

Solid information presented with humor and energy.

Pub Date: July 1, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Plaid People Press

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2018

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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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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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