Another entertaining outing for those already onboard.


From the Super Life of Ben Braver series , Vol. 2

Ben Braver can’t shake his fear that something really bad will happen this year: “That’s how sequels work.”

Ben saved Kepler Academy from a mind-controlling supervillain in series opener The Super Life of Ben Braver (2017), but trouble continues to follow him in his second year at the school for kids with superpowers. In addition to lingering nightmares of last year’s horrors, Ben has to deal with a fan club, some “King Kong–size changes” at school, the mystery of the secret 15th student of the school’s inaugural class, the ever present possibility that he’ll be outed as a phony, and a growing sense that something big is happening. Readers should definitely start with the first book in the series, as many of the plotlines build on previously introduced characters and events. In-line comics, together with Ben’s hilarious asides and moments of pure absurdity (see: a jealous, lightsaber-wielding peanut butter cup), will appeal to many, although some casually pejorative language may detract others. While wary readers will anticipate the identity of this installment’s bad guy, clues cleverly dropped along the way will still have budding sleuths eagerly rereading to pick up each thread. The black-and-white illustrations show characters with a variety of grayscale skin tones, but most of the characters, including black-haired Ben and the majority of the adults, have paper-white skin.

Another entertaining outing for those already onboard. (Graphic/adventure hybrid. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62672-711-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A witty addition to the long-running series.


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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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


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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