If Mr. Rogers wrote sword-and-sorcery adventures, they might look like this.

MELLYBEAN AND THE WICKED WIZARD

From the Mellybean series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Mellybean and the Giant Monster (2020) makes an effective case that “adorable” might be a genre.

In little black dog Mellybean’s second outing, she returns to the kingdom of giant (and benevolent) monster Narra for a world- and cast-expanding adventure. Hetty the hippocorn may be the cutest thing ever. She has the tail of a horse and the wings of a fairy. Even the villain in this story has the face of a Kewpie doll. She has a master plan to remain young forever, but even in her most aged form, her wrinkle lines just make her look like a ventriloquist’s dummy. According to tradition, Mellybean and the three cats who accompany her ought to spend most of the book fighting one another, but instead they come up with a battle plan: They’re going to talk to the evil wizard nicely, rub up against her legs, and lick her nose. Everyone is so infuriatingly nice that even the wizard gets a happy, or at least peaceful, ending. Cynical readers may wish that Mellybean would tip over, since her head is larger than her body, but the character designs are charming, with portmanteau animals like a dragonseal and a griffinbear. The characters don’t always have the dynamic sense of motion they did in the first Mellybean book—the poses are often quite stiff —but there are some spectacular examples of perspective drawing and, as in the first book, the few human characters come from many different races.

If Mr. Rogers wrote sword-and-sorcery adventures, they might look like this. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20281-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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