Only for the strong-stomached.

READ REVIEW

FAME, FORTUNE, AND THE BRAN MUFFINS OF DOOM

Simon's dream to win a fortune in the school talent show with his two best pals, Munch and Ralph, is thwarted by the band trio’s lack of practice.

Simon likes to speak in big words (boldfaced and defined in a lengthy glossary in the end). Munch eats anything, even boogers and turds. Everything makes Ralph sick. These three jokes are repeated ad nauseam. But the exaggeration in this first novel by picture-book writer Kelley (Twelve Terrible Things, 2008) doesn’t end with these characterizations. Everyone is a stereotype: Simon’s hated big sister, their overweight and inattentive teacher, their ancient, muffin-flinging neighbor, Mrs. Annand, and their archenemies Mike, Evil Ernie and Eviler Ernie (who actually loves to knit). Chapter by chapter, Simon describes their failed attempts to practice for the Friday night show, Mrs. Annand’s bran-muffin attacks and finally, their lame performance, dancing to a toddler’s CD. Kelley’s graphite sketches accompany each chapter. Simon, with his glasses and V-neck sweater, is easily identifiable, as are other characters. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that Munch is not the only one who gets a haircut. The concluding glossary includes example sentences but no pronunciation guides, making it less-than-useful.

Only for the strong-stomached. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2606-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Haphazard stabs at describing at least parts of the creative process—more illuminating perhaps for the artist’s students...

I HAVE AN IDEA!

A gifted finder of ideas explains how to track the tricky, elusive things down.

Readers should be warned to hold on to their hats, because although it’s presented as one long, breathless mix of hand-lettered expostulations and dashed-off jabs, squiggles, and swipes of blue, red, and yellow paint, Tullet’s monologue veers about like an unknotted balloon. Dispensing with a title page, he opens abruptly by marveling at the “OH!” moment when an idea hits, then rhetorically asking what an idea might be. He goes on to describe hunting for one as an arduous, even “boring” task. Observing that happening upon an idea is “a little like finding a seed” that grows, he suddenly switches his conceit to exclaim that ideas will come in a “messy and bubbly” swarm—but must be sifted to find the “good” ones, which “always” contain “a seed of madness.” Rather than pausing to unpack that vague if fine-sounding phrase, he rushes on to claim (with one minor typo) confusingly that “those seeds” (which ones?) are hidden everywhere but can be found, cultivated, absorbed in the mind, and ultimately combined…to make an idea. (Weren’t we there already?) Finally, following the affirmation that the effort is worthwhile, whether “just for the fun of it” or “to change the world,” he closes with the inspirational assurance that those who seek will find. Well, that part at least is clear enough.

Haphazard stabs at describing at least parts of the creative process—more illuminating perhaps for the artist’s students than the rest of his audience. (Picture book. 8-10, adult)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7858-5

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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