A true treasure from a very young author.

The Dragon Carousel

Written and illustrated by an 11-year-old girl, this children’s book tells the wonderful tale of a little girl in San Francisco who must attend a new school and leave old friends behind.

Motherless Lily Chen lives in San Francisco near the wharf, and her father operates the Dragon Carousel in Golden Gate Park. When her father’s work schedule changes, it necessitates Lily attending a new school, Oakpark Elementary, and leaving her old friends behind. Feeling isolated and alone, she’s having a hard time adjusting, until her grandmother gives her a good-luck token: a beautiful silver dragon charm on a sparkling silver chain. The charm works its magic, and soon Lily enters a “golden time” in her life, bringing a new friend to ride the Dragon Carousel. Before the age of 12, the author—now a grown-up and an employee of this book’s publishing house—created dozens of short stories, several novels and numerous cartoons. Scans of the original colored-pencil illustrations accompany young Genelza’s honest, endearing original text. It’ll be easy for most children to relate to Lily’s dilemma. Her background, the description of the Dragon Carousel, the problems encountered in the new school and the denouement are all beautifully detailed, resulting in a magical, powerful message for young readers. In addition to the recently drawn new cover, the charming original cover and interior pages are also included. The artwork displays the author’s natural talent and terrific eye for detail, like cracks in a bowl or the springs of a mattress. An especially enchanting illustration depicts Lily standing with a lunch tray surrounded by three new girls, each dressed with delicious details, including platform shoes and sunglasses dangling from a handbag.

A true treasure from a very young author.

Pub Date: July 28, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lekha Publishers

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2012

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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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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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