A simple, repetitive story about fostering self-worth.

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FROM GOD TO US

This illustrated story, based on the author’s experience with her own son, aims to teach young readers that each person is special and unique.

As the book opens, an unnamed pregnant woman excitedly anticipates the birth of her son. She knows, even then, that “No other like him would exist in the universe.” As he grows up, she loves to tell him stories, encouraging him to become “anything he wanted to be.” The boy starts school and does well, earning awards for his good work and making his mother proud. After he begins high school, however, he begins to feel lonely and sad, and although his mother continues to tell him that he’s special, he stops listening to her. He neglects his schoolwork and changes his look in order to fit in better at school. He ends up in a coma after a bicycle accident. His mother visits him every day, telling him that he’s special. The boy recovers, and his mother encourages him as he works toward rehabilitation. He goes to college, gets married to a nice woman, and has a son of his own, whom he tells, “You are very special. No other like you exists in the universe.” The new father later becomes a writer who tells other children stories of affirmation. The text is paired with the author’s realistic illustrations, colored in mostly subdued tones, which hew closely to the events of the text. The text is highly repetitious, and variations on the phrase “You are special. No other like you exists in the universe” appear on nearly every page to drive that point home. However, this repetition will likely appeal to very young readers. The story as a whole, however, is rather text-heavy, which may cause inexperienced readers to lose focus. Despite the book’s title, the text only mentions God a couple times, without reference to a specific religion or denomination.

A simple, repetitive story about fostering self-worth.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-67961-070-7

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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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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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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