Rowley comes into his own in this superb installment.

ROWLEY JEFFERSON'S AWESOME FRIENDLY ADVENTURE

The Wimpy Kid’s best pal writes an adventure story in this follow-up to Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid (2019).

Rowley Jefferson returns for his second solo outing, this time with the ambition of writing a book. The well-meaning, kindhearted Rowley doesn’t want fame or fortune from his story (he admits he isn’t even particularly interested in getting it published) but instead hopes to make a book good enough for his parents to read to him at bedtime. When Rowley turns to his buddy Greg for editorial assistance with his work in progress, however, Greg sees nothing but merchandising opportunities, big-budget–movie adaptations, and fast-food tie-ins. The book alternates between chapters of Rowley’s adventure story, which features young Roland and his muscleman sidekick, Garg the Barbarian, on a quest to save Roland’s mom from the wicked White Warlock, and editorial sessions with Greg. Kinney’s imagination sparks Rowley’s tale with silly creatures and adventure while the author’s wit peppers the editorial sessions with some solid jokes regarding the children’s-publishing scene (a Sherlock Holmes cameo may keep the story out of book fairs due to his pipe; a vampire-romance plot will age the book into the lucrative teen market). Rowley’s previous adventure breathed new life into the Wimpy Kid franchise, but here Rowley comes into his own as a driving force. This entry improves upon its predecessor in every way: The gags are funnier, the storytelling is sharper, and the characters are crisper. Rowley, Greg, and all Rowley’s characters are paper white.

Rowley comes into his own in this superb installment. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4909-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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