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From the Origami Yoda series , Vol. 4

Origami instructions are included (of course), and it’s otherwise chock-full of customarily quirky fun.

Dark times have descended on McQuarrie Middle School, and a rebel alliance is born….

The seventh-graders of MMS have little time to celebrate Dwight and Origami Yoda’s return from Tippett Academy before Principal Rabbski holds a special assembly to announce that since the school’s standardized test scores were so low, new classes for all students will begin immediately. FunTime classes consist of watching videos starring Professor FunTime and his singing calculator, Gizmo—with extra worksheets! What’s worse: FunTime classes take the place of electives such as art, chorus and band. The Origami Rebel Alliance hatches a plan to fail the test, sinking the school’s chance of meeting state standards, unless Principal Rabbski ends FunTime and returns electives to the curriculum. But Emperor Palpatine—as the kids think of Rabbski—won’t fall that easily! Tommy’s case file grows in Angleberger’s fourth doodle-filled paean to individuality, friendship and all things Star Wars. This book may not win any fans among school administrators, but those who have delighted in Tommy and his friends’ previous case files will be pleased. It’s not a great place to begin reading the series—start with the first—and readers be warned: This documents a battle, not the whole war, and ends with the words “To be continued” (“Way yes!” says Origami Yoda).

Origami instructions are included (of course), and it’s otherwise chock-full of customarily quirky fun. (Graphic hybrid fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0858-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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