A short, simple fairy tale, enlivened by a touch of eccentricity that isn’t reflected in its images.

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TWINKLE BONES

In Roberts’ brief debut picture book, a boy in a colorless kingdom discovers music and laughter.

An inquisitive child named Twinkle Bones lives in the “dreary, dark, and sad” Bone Head Kingdom in the sky, where citizens are made of bone and never smile, and where “fun had not yet been invented.” He doesn’t know what the kingdom is missing, but he’s determined to find out and fix it. The answer comes easily in this conflict-free tale, crafted with descriptive word repetition for readers progressing to chapter books. Twinkle Bones wanders into a “dark, dreary, and gray forest,” where he finds a hollow stick and is surprised by the sound it makes when he blows in it. With it, he soon transforms the kingdom into a shining place of music, happiness, and laughter. The dancing citizens’ “clicking, clattering” bones spark and glitter, lighting up the sky with what we on Earth mistakenly assume to be twinkling stars. The eccentric idea of dancing bone people, although a tad macabre, gives this slight narrative a needed creative spark. This imaginative touch, however, doesn’t extend to the merely serviceable full-page illustrations, which depict humanlike characters with white skin and slightly zombielike faces.

A short, simple fairy tale, enlivened by a touch of eccentricity that isn’t reflected in its images.

Pub Date: June 28, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 22

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2017

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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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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

A NOVEL IN CARTOONS

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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