From the Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire series , Vol. 1

It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s great value per page.

This book is the best cartoon that Hanna-Barbera never made.

Benji has more money than he can count. He may be even wealthier than Richie Rich or Scrooge McDuck, so he can spend all his time searching for lost dinosaurs and flying into space with an eccentric scientist. He earned his fortune by designing an app that generates excuses. (“I’m a kid” works in almost any situation.) As soon as Benji becomes a zillionaire, he buys himself a space station. “[I]t’s a great place to keep my zoo,” he tells an interviewer. If Benji had had a TV show back in the 1970s, fans would be fighting over his toys right now on eBay. Not a single moment of the story is plausible. Benji’s adventures are funnier than anything that happened to Jonny Quest or Josie and the Pussycats. The book wasn’t written in the 1970s, so the pace is much faster than Jonny Quest. On one page, the characters are building a chicken coop near an airplane hangar. On another, they’re saving the world from an asteroid. Benji looks exactly the way a cartoon character should, in any time period: one part Richie Rich, one part Scott Pilgrim. Vimislik’s illustrations are like everything in the book: not at all realistic but very, very funny.

It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s great value per page. (Humorous adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4342-6419-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013


From the Three-Ring Rascals series , Vol. 1

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

In this entertaining chapter book, the first in a series, readers meet kind Sir Sidney and the gentle performers and hands in his circus. But Sir Sidney is tired and leaves the circus under the management of new-hire Barnabas Brambles for a week.

That Sir Sidney is beloved by all is quickly established, presenting a sharp contrast to the bully Brambles. The scoundrel immediately comes up with a “to do” list that includes selling the animals and eliminating the mice Bert and Gert. (Gert is almost more distressed by Brambles’ ill-fitting suit and vows to tailor it.) Revealed almost entirely through dialogue, the put-upon animals’ solidarity is endearing. The story, like the circus train now driven by the Famous Flying Banana Brothers, takes absurd loops and turns. The art is fully integrated, illustrating the action and supplementing the text with speech bubbles, facsimile letters and posters, Brambles’ profit-and-loss notes, examples of Gert’s invented vocabulary and more. Brambles’ plans go awry, of course, and he gets his comeuppance. With Bert and Gert acting as his conscience, along with a suit from Gert that finally fits and a dose of forgiveness, Brambles makes a turnaround. Sensitive children may doubt Sir Sidney’s wisdom in leaving his animals with an unscrupulous man, and the closing message is a tad didactic, but that doesn’t blunt the fun too much.

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61620-244-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013


It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

Close Quickview