LEEVA AT LAST

Splendid fun.

A neglected child asks a poignant and essential question: “What are people for?”

Leeva Thornblossom only knows that she’s around 8 or 9, but when she learns that a school will open in her town, she longs to go. But her mother, the mayor, and her father, the town treasurer, only love power, fame, and money. Their Employee Manual (Leeva is the sole employee) forbids Leeva to leave the grounds. What Leeva knows of the world comes from reading the Nutsmore Weekly and watching the soap opera The Winds of Our Tides. The accumulation of injustices propels Leeva beyond the hedge surrounding their property, and she discovers a building next door filled with books. A young man named Harry runs the library for his librarian aunt, whose skateboarding injuries hinder her from doing the work she loves. Leeva learns that most of the problems in her town can be attributed to her parents. Harry helps her befriend Osmund, so afraid of disasters that he wears a hazmat suit, and Fern, who must care for several siblings and her aging grandparents. Leeva also takes charge of Bob, a cranky badger whose family was displaced to make room for the mayor’s statue. Pennypacker delivers a hugely entertaining mix of outsized comedic villainy, dreadful parents, delicious cookies, and kindness rewarded. Leeva’s sturdy instincts for both survival and justice are worth celebrating, as is the gift of books that expand her world. Main characters read White. Final art not seen.

Splendid fun. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-311442-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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

GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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