Likely to be lost in the crowd, but comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading—which, one thinks, is...

WONKENSTEIN

From the Creature from My Closet series , Vol. 1

Skye adds another Wimpy Kid to the growing bandwagon.

Sounding almost too nerdy to be true ("I'm kind of like a backup singer in the song of life"), 12-year-old Rob relates his tale in the now-requisite mix of block-print–type prose and line-drawn cartoon figures with punch lines or commentary in dialogue balloons. A string of hectic events follows the appearance of a manic mannequin from the midden of books and old science projects in his closet. He describes it as "a small, weird man who came up to just above my waist. He looked like two different people who had been smashed together." Comical chases, pranks, interactions with friends dependable and otherwise, mortifying mishaps in front of girls and like standard fare later, Rob has overcome severe stage fright to mend fences with classmate Janae and others by reciting a poem of apology at a school talent show. He has also been turned on to books by his discovery that the mannequin is an amalgam of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein's monster. In the end, Wonkenstein slips back into the closet—and out springs an even smaller Harry Potter/Chewbacca blend. Sequels, anyone?

Likely to be lost in the crowd, but comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading—which, one thinks, is exactly the point. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9268-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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After Daniel’s experiences, readers will want to move there too.

THE LOST BOY'S GIFT

The dull and seemingly ordinary neighborhood in which Daniel fetches up with his newly divorced mom turns out to be anything but.

Daniel’s first impressions of While-a-Way Lane aren’t good, as most of the neighbors are away for spring break, and he’s already in a dark, missing-his-dad mood. But then he spots his next-door neighbor, an older lady named Tilda Butter, apparently talking to the air. Had he looked a bit closer, he would have seen her actually in conversation with a small snake named Isadora. Tilda is very good at looking closer, and as her third-person chapters tend to be much longer than Daniel’s, it’s largely through her eyes and memories that readers will see the wonders of While-a-Way Lane, magical and otherwise, unfold. Wondrous things that happen to Daniel include an exciting encounter with squirrels in Tilda’s attic, landing a role as Lost Boy No. 8 in a school production of Peter Pan (his favorite book), and being followed home one evening by a cloud of fireflies. In Tilda’s view, everyone has a “gift” (hers happens to be talking to animals), and though on the surface Daniel remains rather unappealingly sullen and unobservant until near the end, he ultimately rewards her faith in a way that adds further buoyancy to the upbeat finish. Both Bean’s map and his chapter-head vignettes themselves reward closer looks. The cast defaults to white.

After Daniel’s experiences, readers will want to move there too. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-326-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A summer adventure that determined young readers may enjoy.

IT'S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE!

Tracy—gratingly—delights in calling her younger brother “Pig Face”; although she has a reasonably amicable relationship with him, she appears oblivious to the hurtful nature of her chronic name-calling.

But, surprisingly, since “Pig Face” comes up over and over, that is not the point of this overlong debut novel for early chapter-book readers. Tracy, 11, her best friend, Ralph, and her astute 9-year-old brother Lester, aka Pig Face, embark on the investigation of a mystery: why was a bag of money left in the detritus under the dugout bench of their small Canadian town’s ballpark? Slightly complicating their investigation is the presence of handsome visitor Zach, whom Tracy is developing a crush on and Ralph (perhaps partly because of that) dislikes. Tracy, Ralph, and Lester, all white, pursue their investigation in a kid-appropriate way, hiding the money and asking around, using a way-too-obvious approach that’s sure to spell trouble later—and it does. There are plenty of red herrings and an unexpected villain in this plot-driven adventure that eventually explores bullying but never, disappointingly, addresses the “pig face” problem. Tracy is a colorful character, dressing in vintage clothing and not ashamed of her intelligence, and Lester is amusingly wise for his years, their well-rounded characters adding authenticity. 

A summer adventure that determined young readers may enjoy. (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0621-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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