An engaging tale that offers important lessons about friendship for young readers.



A mischievous little monkey and a grumpy gorilla get into trouble and confront life-changing situations in the Amazon rain forest in Newcomer’s picture book.

Marlin the monkey and Garth the gorilla are two of the many animals that live in the Amazon rain forest. Told in seven “episodes,” the story follows the pair as they have numerous adventures. They initially clash, as “Marlin’s life was all about fun, fun, fun,” while “Garth was a very big gorilla…very strong, very mean, very ugly, and he didn't like monkeys.” Marlin lives to irritate Garth, but when a practical joke goes awry and Garth falls out of a tree and breaks his leg, Marlin must quickly grow up and help his former enemy survive by bringing him food. The experience leads them to become good friends, and as they support each other, they learn things about their families and life histories, conquer their fears, and meet new love interests. They also learn other lessons in the jungle, as when Marlin tells a group of parrots that they should apologize to a toucan for making fun of how she looks. Told in clear prose with plenty of humor and dialogue, Newcomer’s debut will be engaging for young readers. The action is dramatic—featuring long-lost triplet siblings, captured parents, and tragic deaths—but hums right along and ties into broader themes of friendship and belonging. Marlin will be a particularly relatable character for young readers who can’t seem to stay out of trouble, while quieter children may see themselves in Garth, who appreciates silence and just wants to find another gorilla to be with because his species isn’t native to South America. Colorful cartoon illustrations scattered throughout effectively reflect the action of the story and help break up long blocks of text. Despite all the drama, the ending neatly wraps up the story and provides a satisfying conclusion.

An engaging tale that offers important lessons about friendship for young readers.

Pub Date: June 1, 2015


Page Count: 41

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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A witty addition to the long-running series.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: yesterday

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.


Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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