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

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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Contrived at some points, polemic at others, but a stout defense of the right to read.

BAN THIS BOOK

A shy fourth-grader leads the revolt when censors decimate her North Carolina school’s library.

In a tale that is dominated but not overwhelmed by its agenda, Gratz takes Amy Anne, a young black bibliophile, from the devastating discovery that her beloved From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler has been removed from the library at the behest of Mrs. Spencer, a despised classmate’s mom, to a qualified defense of intellectual freedom at a school board meeting: “Nobody has the right to tell you what books you can and can’t read except your parents.” Meanwhile, as more books vanish, Amy Anne sets up a secret lending library of banned titles in her locker—a ploy that eventually gets her briefly suspended by the same unsympathetic principal who fires the school’s doctorate-holding white librarian for defiantly inviting Dav Pilkey in for an author visit. Characters frequently serve as mouthpieces for either side, sometimes deadly serious and other times tongue-in-cheek (“I don’t know about you guys, but ever since I read Wait Till Helen Comes, I’ve been thinking about worshipping Satan”). Indeed, Amy Anne’s narrative is positively laced with real titles that have been banned or challenged and further enticing teasers for them.

Contrived at some points, polemic at others, but a stout defense of the right to read. (discussion guide) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8556-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Flimsily entertaining

THE SECRET OF WHITE STONE GATE

From the Black Hollow Lane series , Vol. 2

An American schoolgirl in a British boarding school battles a secret society in this adventure.

In this trope-y sequel to The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (2019), the students at Wellsworth must stay safe from the evil order that’s been there for generations and still entangles their parents. Emmy, a white, well-to-do Connecticut 12-year-old, is determined to return to Wellsworth even though last year she was nearly killed. The Order of Black Hollow Lane, the mysterious bad guys who are disguised as the school’s Latin Society, want something from Emmy. Her long-lost father, for one, and Emmy’s box of medallions, for another. Why? Do they really need a reason aside from being an evil club full of wickedness determined to find a whole box of MacGuffins that will somehow make them even richer and more powerful or at least propel the plot? In any case the dastardly fiends plague Emmy, framing one of her best friends for theft and leaving cryptic notes and computer files to threaten the lives of Emmy’s loved ones. Though the Order has infiltrated this (nearly all-white, wealthy) school for generations, Emmy must somehow defeat them and save her dad. The quest is peppered with spy-thriller moments that are mostly only thinly sketched and go nowhere, though some (such as a disguise right out of Scooby Doo cartoons) are funny enough to keep the action moving.

Flimsily entertaining . (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6467-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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