A certain pleaser where furry fictions are well-loved.

HAMSTERSAURUS REX

From the Hamstersaurus Rex series , Vol. 1

Taking care of a pet can be time-consuming, but caring for a secret mutant hamster could take over your life.

When a hamster mysteriously appears at the back of Mr. Copeland’s sixth-grade classroom, Sam Gibbs, though he hasn’t been the most popular student since the, ah, caricature-drawing incident, gets to name it: Hamstersaurus Rex (due to its tiny T-rex arms). Hammie escapes and later saves Sam from Kiefer “Beefer” Vanderkoff, Horace Hotwater Middle School’s dimmest bully, by dropping a solar system made of pennies on Beefer’s head. After gorging on SmilesCorp snacks and a different product called Dinoblast Powerpacker, Hammie mutates into a part-dinosaur, part-hamster eating machine with a fondness for Sam, who can’t take Hammie home due to his mother’s fur allergy. Can Sam keep Hammie a secret, save the rodent from Beefer’s revenge, and feed the furry garbage disposal enough to quiet its rampages? O’Donnell kicks off a new series with an illustrated origin story sure to please fans of Betty G. Birney’s Humphrey and Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate. High jinks are funny and gross without being too rude, and characters are developed just realistically enough to ensure readers will identify with Sam and his female best friend, Dylan. Miller’s cartoons depict a largely white student body, including Sam, Beefer, and Dylan.

A certain pleaser where furry fictions are well-loved. (Science fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237754-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience.

STELLA DÍAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY

From the Stella Díaz series , Vol. 1

Speaking up is hard when you’re shy, and it can be even harder if you’ve got two languages in your head.

Third-grader Estrella “Stella” Díaz, is a shy, Mexican-American girl who draws pictures and loves fish, and she lives in Chicago with her mother and older brother, Nick. Jenny, Stella’s best friend, isn’t in her class this year, and Stella feels lonely—especially when she sees that Vietnamese-American Jenny is making new friends. When a new student, Stanley Mason, arrives in her class, Stella introduces herself in Spanish to the white former Texan without realizing it and becomes embarrassed. Surely Stanley won’t want to befriend her after that—but he seems to anyway. Stella often confuses the pronunciation between English and Spanish sounds and takes speech classes. As an immigrant with a green card—a “legal alien,” according to her teacher—Stella feels that she doesn’t fully belong to either American culture or Mexican culture, and this is nicely reflected in her not being fully comfortable in either language, an experience familiar to many immigrant and first-generation children. This early-middle-grade book features italicized Spanish words and phrases with direct translations right after. There is a small subplot about bullying from Stella’s classmate, and readers will cheer as they see how, with the help of her friends and family, Stella overcomes her shyness and gives a presentation on Jacques Cousteau. Dominguez’s friendly black-and-white drawings grace most pages.

A nice and timely depiction of an immigrant child experience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-858-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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