A certain pleaser where furry fictions are well-loved.

READ REVIEW

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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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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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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