From the Kid from Planet Z series , Vol. 1

With its promising high concept and laced with plenty of wry humor, this series opener has broad appeal—a good choice for...

It’s tough to be the new kid in school; when the school is on the strange planet your family’s spaceship just crashed on, the challenges only mount.

Fortunately for Zeke and his kind but clueless parents from Planet Z, their ship’s feline commander, Zeus, a graduate of Intergalactic College, has studied Earth. Establishing them in a vacant house, he sets the family straight on some (though not all) Earth basics: there’s only one sun and one moon; if identified as aliens, they could end up in a zoo, Zeus warns, so they must act like earthlings until they can repair the ship. Zeke’s dismayed when told he has to go to school. He won’t know anyone! “I will be the new zeebop,” he protests. Rejecting Zeke’s suggestion that he go instead, Zeus smugly points out that Earth cats don’t go to school. Luckily, Zeke’s classmates prove to be a friendly bunch, sympathetic when he reacts with horror to the cafeteria’s hot dogs and impressed when he drinks his milk through a straw inserted in his ear. But before it can be repaired, the space ship’s hauled off as junk, and the Zanders must find a way to buy it back. While Zeke’s extraterrestrial family can pass (provided they retract their antennae) for dark-skinned humans, Zeus, a tabby, learns the hard way that passing as an Earth cat has a downside. Krulik writes with a soft touch, sparing use of Planet Z vocabulary and the inevitable misapprehensions drawn by the literal-minded Zanders offering plenty of laughs as well as thought-provoking meditations on just how it might feel to be an alien.

With its promising high concept and laced with plenty of wry humor, this series opener has broad appeal—a good choice for reluctant readers. (Science fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-448-49013-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018


From the Bea Garcia series , Vol. 4

A funny and timely primer for budding activists.

Problems are afoot at Emily Dickinson Elementary School, and it’s up to Bea Garcia to gather the troops and fight.

Bea Garcia and her best friend, Judith Einstein, sit every day under the 250-year-old oak tree in their schoolyard and imagine a face in its trunk. They name it “Emily” after their favorite American poet. Bea loves to draw both real and imagined pictures of their favorite place—the squirrels in the tree, the branches that reach for the sky, the view from the canopy even though she’s never climbed that high. Until the day a problem boy does climb that high, pelting the kids with acorns and then getting stuck. Bert causes such a scene that the school board declares Emily a nuisance and decides to chop it down. Bea and Einstein rally their friends with environmental facts, poetry, and artwork to try to convince the adults in their lives to change their minds. Bea must enlist Bert if she wants her plan to succeed. Can she use her imagination and Bert’s love of monsters to get him in line? In Bea’s fourth outing, Zemke gently encourages her protagonist to grow from an artist into an activist. Her energy and passion spill from both her narration and her frequent cartoons, which humorously extend the text. Spanish-speaking Bea’s Latinx, Einstein and Bert present white, and their classmates are diverse.

A funny and timely primer for budding activists. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2941-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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