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From the Maynard Moose series

Continuing efforts to find a two-legged audience for the woodland tales of Maynard Moose, veteran yarnspinner Claflin follows up The Uglified Ducky (2008) with another “distremely” hilarious mashup. Related in moose dialect, the tale has young Punzel cutting off her “goldie” locks after they become “all full of sticks and twigs and little nastified wudgies of glop” and then tangle hopelessly in the bushes during her flight from a witchy hair stylist. With help from “eight or nine seven dwarfs” with names like Clumsy, Hyper, Grizelda and Ambidexterous, she escapes for a while but eventually falls victim to the witch’s poisoned watermelon. Her glass coffin becomes a tourist-magnet centerpiece for a dwarf-run amusement park until the clumsy Handsome Prince comes riding along on a snow-white moose to fall onto the coffin and wake her. Using dark backdrops that brighten the colors of the blocky figures in the foreground, Stimson places the escapade in a traditional medieval setting. He endows the fugitive damsel with oversized spectacles and slips in droll details like Japanese tourists visiting a “Punzeldog” stand at the roadside attraction. In the end, Punzel falls for the moose, the Prince marries the witch and all “lived happily for never afterwords.” Moral? “[T]here ain’t no moral,” the antlered narrator concludes. Plenty of belly laughs, though. Packaged with a recorded version delivered in a Bullwinkle-ish lisp. (glossary) (Fractured fairy tale. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-87483-914-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: August House

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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