WORST-CASE COLLIN

Poignant, timely, and altogether affecting.

A young boy wrestles with his mother’s untimely death and his father’s consequent hoarding.

Sixth grader Collin Brey is anxious. Ever since his mom died in a car accident two years earlier, he has carried an orange notebook full of worst-case scenarios running the gamut from a jammed door to a zombie attack. His father is a brilliant but disorganized math professor who is obsessed with proving the Riemann hypothesis. Collin battles bullies Tyson and Keith at school but is buffered by his two BFFs, Liam and Georgia. At home, Collin’s anxiety mounts, as his dad begins to acquire more and more stuff, first starting with thrift-store finds and then working his way up to things like bags of trash and toenail clippings. Ashamed, Collin tries to hide his increasingly distressing home life from his friends, all while battling unresolved grief and his tormentors. While Collin’s problems are heavy, Caprara gives him an accessible voice, even managing to imbue humor into the story alongside the many serious moments. Many of the poems are lyrical, flowing free verse, while others play with form. Interspersed beside the poems are Collin’s lists from his notebook. Together these elements provide an intimate look into his life and struggles. A note on hoarding and mental health is included. Most characters are presumed White.

Poignant, timely, and altogether affecting. (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-145-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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