With its promising high concept and laced with plenty of wry humor, this series opener has broad appeal—a good choice for...

CRASH!

From the Kid from Planet Z series , Vol. 1

It’s tough to be the new kid in school; when the school is on the strange planet your family’s spaceship just crashed on, the challenges only mount.

Fortunately for Zeke and his kind but clueless parents from Planet Z, their ship’s feline commander, Zeus, a graduate of Intergalactic College, has studied Earth. Establishing them in a vacant house, he sets the family straight on some (though not all) Earth basics: there’s only one sun and one moon; if identified as aliens, they could end up in a zoo, Zeus warns, so they must act like earthlings until they can repair the ship. Zeke’s dismayed when told he has to go to school. He won’t know anyone! “I will be the new zeebop,” he protests. Rejecting Zeke’s suggestion that he go instead, Zeus smugly points out that Earth cats don’t go to school. Luckily, Zeke’s classmates prove to be a friendly bunch, sympathetic when he reacts with horror to the cafeteria’s hot dogs and impressed when he drinks his milk through a straw inserted in his ear. But before it can be repaired, the space ship’s hauled off as junk, and the Zanders must find a way to buy it back. While Zeke’s extraterrestrial family can pass (provided they retract their antennae) for dark-skinned humans, Zeus, a tabby, learns the hard way that passing as an Earth cat has a downside. Krulik writes with a soft touch, sparing use of Planet Z vocabulary and the inevitable misapprehensions drawn by the literal-minded Zanders offering plenty of laughs as well as thought-provoking meditations on just how it might feel to be an alien.

With its promising high concept and laced with plenty of wry humor, this series opener has broad appeal—a good choice for reluctant readers. (Science fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-448-49013-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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