Max Crumbly is back, blundering through his second misadventure.
When readers last saw the white middle schooler, he had just plunged out of the school’s “vast, labyrinth-like” ventilation system onto the pizza ordered by the three bumbling, white crooks who have taken advantage of the three-day weekend to execute the most incompetent computer heist ever. They are fortunate that it’s dimwitted Max who’s locked in with them. Unbeknownst to them, however, his new, smart friend Erin, also white, is on the phone with Max and has hacked her way into the school computer and now controls all its systems. With Erin’s help, it should be easy for Max to thwart the crime, retrieve his father’s precious comic book, and escape the building. Alas, it is not. As in series opener Locker Hero (2016), Max’s journal provides a play-by-play of the episode (including cartoons of scenes he could not have witnessed), elongated by digressions and larded with vomit and excrement jokes. Also as before, Max’s faux hand-lettered account features cross-outs and emendations that make little to no sense. A couple of well-paced cartoon-only sequences offer effective (if gross) slapstick, but they cannot compensate for the overall unfunniness of the caper.
Kids who want to see this sort of adventure done well should opt for Varian Johnson’s Jackson Greene books; kids who are charmed by puke jokes may find this mildly diverting. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)