Neither Rob’s guilt pangs nor Pinocula’s near reversion to wood add much force to the superficial anti-lying message, and...

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PINOCULA

From the Creature from My Closet series , Vol. 3

Occasional yuks and hints of an overarching plotline at the end aren’t enough to keep this phoned-in entry in a Wimpy Kid–knockoff series above ground.

Following misadventures with Wonkenstein (2011) and Potterwookiee (2012), Rob takes the third literary-mashup action figure to emerge from his closet in stride. This is particularly easy, as, aside from one school visit, the hybrid marionette/vampire is a reclusive wood biter who prefers to hide out in an empty house and turns more puppetlike with every compulsive fib. Meanwhile, Rob comments at length on the foibles of his weird family and friends just as he did in previous episodes and joins a book club that improbably reads Pinocchio aloud in just one session (he gets through Dracula with similar alacrity). Thanks to a mouth with a mind of its own, he also invites heartthrob neighbor Janae and 10 other schoolmates to ride to the upcoming middle school dance in a nonexistent limo. Delivered in journal entries with dialogue and punch lines mouthed by the line-drawn cartoon figures on every page, Rob’s narrative ambles its way past a parental save (his dad unexpectedly drives up in a rented limo) to an abject general apology. Refreshed by a short burial in the park, Pinocula then returns to the magic closet, leaving behind his bat/cricket sidekick as a memento.

Neither Rob’s guilt pangs nor Pinocula’s near reversion to wood add much force to the superficial anti-lying message, and the premise, third time through, has gone as stale as the jokes. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9689-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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