This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and...

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THE TERRIBLE TWO GET WORSE

From the Terrible Two series , Vol. 2

When pranking perfection meets the seemingly unprankable foe, who gets the last laugh?

Terrible Two Niles and Miles have been merrily pranking their favorite targets, Principal Barkin and his dim, loathsome son Josh, at school and in town all autumn long. Fed up with the plague of pranks, former Principal Barkin (father of the current one) stages a coup d’état at a school board meeting and takes back his old job. This new-old Principal Barkin is draconian in his control of the school. He hangs a sign counting the days since the last prank…which, since he avows there is no prank if no one reacts (and he never reacts), means there have been no pranks. Miles and Niles despair as one after another of their complex, devious plots are ignored. School becomes unbearable until they seek help from a most unlikely source. Can three succeed where two have failed? John and Barnett’s sophomore effort is as much fun as series opener The Terrible Two (2015). The boys’ history as rivals and their home lives barely receive mention here, so the first volume is a must-read—no hardship. Cornell’s line drawings add to the goofy, deadpan experience.

This revenger’s comedy, dotted with references to classic plays and philosophical concepts, will be a joy for pranksters and seekers of a good-hearted laugh. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1680-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The potential strength of this presentation would be as a read-aloud to grade-schoolers, who would, no doubt, enjoy the...

SIR SETH THISTLETHWAITE AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CAVES

From the Sir Seth Thistlethwaite series , Vol. 2

Two imaginative 10-year-old boys embark on a disbelief-suspending adventure in this second of a series.

Sir Seth, Sir Ollie and Seth’s “steed,” Shasta (his dog in a realer world), discover Puddlewater Pond is draining down into a netherworld, the Queendom of Claire, populated by short Khaboumians, the evil ogre Ooz, his tree-eating dinosaur and some almost-flying umbies. These creatures are coming into conflict, creating confusion, consternation and complete chaos.  Most of the narrative consists of frequent alliteration, puns and embedded rhyming words that don’t scan into poetry. “Sir Ollie stuttered with surprise, his eyes the size of banana cream pies,” for example. A certain amount of this is amusing; after several pages, it simply becomes unbecomingly uneven, creating a nearly noxious narrative. Some of the concepts are strangely Seuss-like: The Umbies travel in pairs, under-umbies under over-umbies that use their apparently otherwise useless wings to provide shade for their under-umbies. Chuggamugga bugs, like mugs with legs, carry water for wayward desert wanderers. While the pace of the plot careens, its superficiality is strangely startling. Cartoonish black-and-white illustrations add an amusing aura to a plethora of pages.

The potential strength of this presentation would be as a read-aloud to grade-schoolers, who would, no doubt, enjoy the difficulties the adult reader would encounter, wading through all the wacky words. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-926818-94-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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