An iconic picture book gets rebooted.

Even before the opening—“I am Ella / I am six // I am an urban child / I live at The Local Hotel”—savvy readers will recognize the cover design of a girl writing her name in red lipstick on a huge mirror. Ella has brown skin, a bubble skirt and less of a glint in her eye than Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight’s Eloise, but she takes similarly rambunctious ownership of her funky, contemporary home-hotel. Ella’s mischief and cadence (and Kasdan’s minimal punctuation) ring thrillingly familiar: “If there are a lot of wheelie suitcases trying / to get in the elevator and these people are all in a band / with a bunch of groupies and publicists / and bloggers or something I wedge myself right in / the middle of it and drop my MetroCard.” The tattooed, male nanny “might go in with some guys to buy a grilled cheese truck”; elsewhere Ella reports, “Sometimes I put edamame / in my nostrils.” Her self-descriptions are hilarious; the text winks with merry self-awareness. However, Chin’s color-focused art is flat and unfortunately earnest, lacking visual humor. This newbie mischief-maker can’t approach the original, but that’s fine—it’s not parody, correction or competition; it’s homage. Both books together make a very cool gift.

For hipsters of all ages. (Picture book. 6-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01675-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.


From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Fluffy, fast, fun reading for fans of Clueless McGee and the Wimpy Kid.


From the Terrible Two series , Vol. 1

Miles used to live near the sea. Miles had friends. Miles was his school's greatest prankster...how will he survive a move to Yawnee Valley?

Yawnee Valley is famous for one thing: cows. All new students at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy receive a booklet of 1,346 interesting cow facts from fussbudget fifth-generation principal Barry Barkin. On the first day of school, when Principal Barkin's car is found mysteriously parked on the school's steps, Barkin suspects Miles and assigns Niles Sparks to be Miles' buddy. Miles can't think of anything more awful than spending every moment of every day with smiling, officious, king-of-the-obvious Niles. On top of that, Barkin's son, Josh, has decided Miles is a good bullying target. To make life interesting, Miles plans a perfect prank in his pranking notebook, but it’s foiled. That's followed by an invitation to join forces in pranking from an unexpected source...no way! Let the prank war commence! Barnett and John launch their cow-resplendent illustrated series with the humorous origin story of the pranking duo who lend the series its name. Characters may be stock; however, the pranks are anything but, and it's peppered with cow facts. Cornell’s goofy cartoon illustrations (especially the blasé cows) add giggles aplenty.

Fluffy, fast, fun reading for fans of Clueless McGee and the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1491-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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