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From the Goosebumps Slappy World series , Vol. 1

Disposable paperback chills from Jovial Bob Stine.

Stine’s Slappy returns to sneer and scare.

Everyone’s favorite demonic dummy, Slappy, welcomes readers to his world as he acts as narrator and host in this first of a new Goosebumps subseries. This time out of the case, Slappy is a gift to Ian on his 12th birthday from his father, who repairs dolls and had received Slappy as a job—but with no return address. Ian has been obsessed with ventriloquism and dummies since a trip on his 9th birthday to a doll museum. Bratty little sister Molly thinks the refurbished Slappy’s scary. Annoying cousins Jonny and Vinny want their turn at playing with the new toy. When a paper with six magic words that promise to bring Slappy to life slips out of the dummy’s sleeve, all heck breaks loose. The is-he/isn’t-he–alive plot gets recycled again (this is Slappy’s 10th novel-length outing) along with all of Slappy’s jokes (which are mostly insults and feel very antique). His legions of fans won’t mind; they never do. The language is simple, the chapters end in (often foolish) cliffhangers. Per established formula, this offers just a bit of gross and no real scares. Slappy is white, and there’s nothing to indicate that the rest of the cast is otherwise.

Disposable paperback chills from Jovial Bob Stine. (Humorous horror. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-06828-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Best for readers who have clearly indicated they would like to take their writing efforts to the next level.

A young white girl writes and illustrates a story, which is critiqued by the narrator as it is created.

The girl begins her story by drawing a Hero. Then she thinks maybe a Heroine would be better. Then she decides both will work. She places them in “a good town, filled with good people, called our Setting.” The narrator, an unseen editor who lurks over the artist’s shoulder, tells the storyteller she needs to put in some Conflict, make the Evil Overlord scarier, and give it better action. This tongue-in-cheek way of delivering the rules of creative writing is clever, and paired with Le Huche’s earnest, childlike illustrations, it seems to be aimed at giving helpful direction to aspiring young creators (although the illustrations are not critiqued). But the question needs to be asked: do very young writers really need to know the rules of writing as determined by adults? While the story appears to be about helping young readers learn writing—there is “A Friendly List of Words Used in this Book” at the end with such words as “protagonist” and “antagonist” (glossed as “Hero and Heroine” and “Evil Overlord,” respectively)—it also has a decidedly unhelpful whiff of judgment. Rules, the text seems to say, must be followed for the story to be a Good one. Ouch.

Best for readers who have clearly indicated they would like to take their writing efforts to the next level. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2935-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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From the It's Not a Fairy Tale series , Vol. 4

Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud.

It’s good to embrace change.

Although an unseen narrator attempts to tell an accustomed version of “The Three Little Pigs”—here named Alan, Alfred, and Alvin Albert—their younger sister, Alison, wants to get in on the action because she’s a natural storyteller. The narrator grudgingly allows Alison to tag along, but her added bits of flavor and the unexpected personalities of her brothers soon send the story off its traditional tracks and into hilarious hijinks. For example, Alan’s love of building allows him to design a functional house made of plastic drinking straws, Alfred’s stick house is actually constructed by Alan because Alfred’s clearly a star and not stage crew, and Alvin’s shacking up in a pumpkin behind Cinderella’s castle because he’s…not the crispiest piece of bacon on the plate. Alison’s quick thinking leads the brothers to be one step ahead of the wandering wolf. When the narrator hits their limit, a conversation with Alison proves that collaboration can lead to unexpected but wonderful results. The story flows well, accompanied by energetic cartoon art, and the choice to color-code the speech bubbles of each character (and the text of the narrator vs. Alison) ensures readers will be able to follow the snappy dialogue. Those who love to make up their own stories will be inspired, and readers who march to the beats of their own drums will be delighted. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-3243-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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