A good choice for transitioning readers looking for a splash of humor.

READ REVIEW

MORGAN GETS CRACKING

Life as a third-grader can be very trying….

Between Aldeen, the Queen of Mean, and Curtis, the nearly perfect new kid, Morgan has his hands full. What’s a boy to do? He and his best friend, Charlie, are just two ordinary kids, but unfortunately, they have to endure noogies from Aldeen and showing off from Curtis on a daily basis, even outside of school! In this continuation of the series (Music by Morgan, 2011), straightforward sentences with basic vocabulary describe Morgan’s mild misadventures, from a school trip to a chicken farm to schoolyard games and a block party that promises fun for all (or does it?). While the characters are only minimally developed and the plot a trifle simplistic, young readers will appreciate the accessible text, action-filled black-and-white illustrations, discrete chapters that end on suspenseful notes and a slight twist on the usual bully fare, as chubby Morgan tries to find a way to stand up to the daunting Aldeen, who may not be quite as evil as she appears. A quick, solid read for youngsters just ready for longer chapters but not quite prepared for Wimpy Kid books, this selection mines a similar vein and includes some good chuckles, a likable protagonist and an anti-bullying message that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

A good choice for transitioning readers looking for a splash of humor. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4595-0075-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Formac

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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