SO MUCH

"They weren't doing anything, Mom and the baby, nothing really...Then, DING DONG! `Oooooooh!' " So begins this joyous, song-like tale of a family gathering focusing on the family's youngest member. As an aunt, an uncle, grandmothers, and cousins arrive, they hug, kiss, and play with the adorable toddler who revels in their attention. Finally the father comes home and—"Surprise!"—they've all come to celebrate his birthday. The party flows with food, drink, dancing, and good humor depicted in a glorious two-page wordless spread. Finally, the party ends and the baby is sent to bed, at first kicking and screaming but then happily remembering how everyone loves him "SO MUCH!" Cooke (When I Grow Bigger, p. 1124) masterfully captures the closeness of the family and the wonder of the baby. Her story builds repeating words and rhythms and a common, comforting refrain. Her use of ungrammatical speech patterns may not have been necessary, but it gives the whole a sense of candid authenticity. A celebration of a warm and loving African-American family. Oxenbury's illustrations are magnificent. (Fiction/Picture book. 3+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-56402-344-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A wonderfully charming tale of family and sisters that anyone can bond with.

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SISTERS

Two sisters who are constantly at odds take a family road trip that covers more ground—both literally and figuratively—than they expect.

After begging her parents for a sister, Raina gets more than she bargained for once Amara is born. From the moment she was brought home, Amara hasn’t been quite the cuddly playmate that Raina had hoped. As the years pass, the girls bicker constantly and apparently couldn’t be more unalike: Raina spends her time indoors underneath her headphones, and Amara loves animals and the outdoors. The girls, their mother and their little brother all pack up to drive to a family reunion, and it seems like the trip’s just going to be more of the same, with the girls incessantly picking on each other all the way from San Francisco to Colorado. However, when the trip doesn’t go quite as planned—for a number of reasons—the girls manage to find some common ground. Told in then-and-now narratives that are easily discernable in the graphic format, Telgemeier’s tale is laugh-out-loud funny (especially the story about the snake incident) and quietly serious all at once. Her rounded, buoyant art coupled with a masterful capacity for facial expressions complements the writing perfectly. Fans of her previous books Smile (2010) and Drama (2012) shouldn’t miss this one; it’s a winner.

A wonderfully charming tale of family and sisters that anyone can bond with. (Graphic memoir. 7-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-54059-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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