This won’t “fry everyone’s burgers,” but its audience exists.

CONTROL FREAK

From the King of the Bench series

No matter the sport, Steve, middle schooler at Spiro T. Agnew Middle School, is the undisputed King of the Bench.

Steve and his friends, diminutive and cryptically psychic Joey and gassy, big-boned Carlos, like sports but aren’t interested in the prospect of being tackled. They prefer to watch their local NFL “doormat” team, the Goodfellow Goons, practice, sharing the bleachers with superfan Billionaire Bill, who lives in the stadium. Bill offers Steve an ancient Nintendo 64 controller in exchange for Steve’s Eskimo Pie, along with the advice “Control your own life.” After several experiments, Steve discovers that the controller seems to control people. When star athlete Jimmy Jimerino tricks the trio into volunteering for the sparsely populated school football team, Steve uses the controller to give the Mighty Plumbers a winning season, but each time he uses it someone gets hurt. Is the controller magic? Cursed? Will Steve ever leave the bench? Cartoonist Moore’s second in the series features more of his scratchy cartoons and some goofy, sometimes-gross laughs. The story arc is predictable, but it’s peppered with “Quick Time Outs” explaining school and sports subjects with hyperbolically wry humor. Inept sports fans will identify with Steve and his buddies and wish for their own N64 controllers. As in the previous book, diversity is communicated with naming conventions, including a tired joke about a Hawaiian student’s long name.

This won’t “fry everyone’s burgers,” but its audience exists. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-220332-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

WAYS TO GROW LOVE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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