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SQUISHED

A charming and achingly relatable snapshot of life in a big family.

A young girl struggles to find her own space among her many siblings.

Eleven-year-old Avery Annie Lee is one of seven children in a family living in a small, bucolic town in Maryland. Avery loves art; her two BFFs, Dani and Cameron; and the annual end-of-summer fair. After the latest embarrassing incident, this one involving her toddler brother at fifth grade graduation, Avery is tormented with adolescent agita: Her large family makes her endlessly self-conscious and irritated, leaving her yearning for a room of her own and the coveted solitude it would afford her. When she learns from her older brother that her parents are considering uprooting the family and moving to Oregon, Avery is thrown. This sophomore stand-alone graphic novel from Lloyd and Nutter, whose earlier collaboration brought readers Allergic (2021), is another absolute delight. Lloyd’s carefully nuanced characters feel all too real and are masterfully brought to life by Nutter’s stylish, full-color art. The dynamics among the Lee family members are adroitly rendered, down to the littlest exchanges; in one brief scene, Mr. Lee brings the kids to the skating rink, and another dad asks if all the kids are his as the scene cuts to a close-up of a visually deflated and obviously embarrassed Avery. Those who relish the tales of Raina Telgemeier, Jennifer L. Holm, and Kayla Miller will be utterly captivated. The Lees are implied Korean American; Dani is White, and Cameron is Black.

A charming and achingly relatable snapshot of life in a big family. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781338568936

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

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. 18, 2019

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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