Readers will have a ball with this hilarious, charming story.

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WHISKERELLA

From the Hamster Princess series , Vol. 5

Hamster princess Harriet is back in Vernon’s take on “Cinderella.”

Twelve-year-old Harriet has zero interest in marriage, especially when most princes she knows aren’t particularly pleasant, but her optimistic mother has other ideas; the queen thinks that a masked ball would liberate Harriet from her intimidating reputation. But it’s a reputation Harriet is proud of, and the queen’s idea of a masked ball sadly doesn’t allow for Harriet’s costume ideas, like Genghis Prawn, “unstoppable leader of the lobster horde.” Instead, the belle of the ball is a gorgeous, mysterious newcomer wearing glass shoes. While everyone else is enchanted, Harriet, concerned about how easy it was for an uninvited intruder to waltz right in, schemes to learn the mysterious hamster’s secret. She learns that Ella (or Whiskerella) is stuck attending balls until she’s swept off her feet by a prince. Ella finds the princes just as odious as Harriet does—and the shoes are painful—but her wishes are less important than the “happily ever after” that the fairy godmouse insists she have, as “Everry little girrrl drrreams of marrrying a prrrince!” The wild struggle to prevent the unwanted happily-ever-after includes razor-sharp takedowns of Cinderella tropes, stampeding quails, and a running gag about a lizard with bladder troubles. After all the silliness, it ends on a surprisingly beautiful note.

Readers will have a ball with this hilarious, charming story. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-18655-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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