Warm and well-meant but roughly crafted.

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MY NAME IS THIRD, “YES” THIRD

Amateur photographs of pet hens and rabbits narrating their day-to-day lives illustrate this simple, decidedly homegrown picture book.

The author’s stated purpose in writing this picture book is to make children aware of “how special hens and rabbits are in the world.” Illustrated with what appear to be photos of the author’s pets (hens, Flemish Giant rabbits, a dog), the book opens in the friendly voice of a red hen named Third, introducing herself and her companions: a hen named Second; sibling rabbits that include Third’s friend Skyler (also listed as the author’s name); and the animals’ human caretaker, Suz. Third recounts a peaceful day in the life of this menagerie (up early, foraging for roots and worms, watching butterflies) followed by a crisis when an injured Second must go to the vet’s office. After Second’s happy return, three chicks and a wild mouse are welcomed into the family. The author’s warm affection for the furred, feathered creatures is evident and is the story’s strength. Its weakness: the errors in construction that riddle its pages. Divided into sections oddly identified as series rather than chapters, the book shifts abruptly from first person to third. Some sentences and names begin with lowercase letters, punctuation is missing or haphazard, and these errors, added to an unfortunate saccharinity, undermine the author’s well-intended attempt to interest her young audience in animals.

Warm and well-meant but roughly crafted.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2018

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

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: Nov. 24, 2020

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.

THE ICKABOG

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: yesterday

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