Maybe the next episode will be less derivative. There’s always hope.

READ REVIEW

POTTERWOOKIEE

From the Creature from My Closet series , Vol. 2

The second doll-sized literary mashup to come out of a wimpy kid’s magic closet (see Wonkenstein, 2011) adds wizardly spells and, far more frequently, noxious smells to a standard catalog of preteen misadventures.

Having reintroduced his family (“I mean my mom calls me Ribert, and if she’s not humiliating me, she’s sleeping”), Robert explains the origins of the pocket companion he dubs “Hairy.” He chattily goes on to record efforts to save his little buddy from rough friends, his little brother, a garbage truck and an aggressive owl, along with his repeated transformation into a dork whenever he runs into dreamboat neighbor Janae. Amid references to monkey waste, a modified version of Old Maid called “Yo Mama” and other strained laffs, he recruits said friends to reform a bully by tying the punk to a graveyard tree one night. He also creates what turns out to be a revolting concoction for a cooking contest in hopes of appearing on Average Chef, “TV’s third most watched reality cooking show.” Still sailing along in Jeff Kinney’s wake format-wise, Skye presents Rob’s tally of haps and mishaps in a mix of block print and frequent, wobbly line drawings with punch lines and side remarks in dialogue balloons. In the end, Hairy leaves his tiny wand as a keepsake and returns to the closet, setting the stage for Rob’s next visitor: Pinocula.

Maybe the next episode will be less derivative. There’s always hope. (Comic fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9451-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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