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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Steer Cthulhu-craving kiddies to Charles Gilman’s fearful and funny Lovecraft Middle School.

DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM

Dr. Fell, foul fiend or friend to children?

The last house on Hardscrabble Street, empty and old, has always been a playground for the local children, so when a “sold” sign appears in the yard, no one’s pleased. Jerry and Gail Bloom and Gail’s friend Nancy Pinkblossom meet their new neighbor, the wizened Dr. Fell, and bemoan the loss of their play space. A few days later, a fantastical playground of pirate ships and castle towers appears in Dr. Fell’s yard. Before long, children start getting hurt there, but every injury on Dr. Fell’s playground heals quickly under his care. Gail, Jerry, and Nancy grow suspicious, especially when their parents start acting strangely. Then Gail returns from a visit to Dr. Fell acting brainwashed. Her friend and brother cure her, but as Dr. Fell’s control of the town grows, the trio realizes something terribly sinister’s afoot. Can they head it off? Actor and storyteller Neilsen’s debut tries too hard from the start. Dr. Fell speaks in purple prose and then translates himself nearly every time he converses, a characterization tic that grows old quickly. Repetition of humorless gags and forced quirkiness in nomenclature cannot be saved by a shallow attempt at Lovecraft-ian horror far too late in the tale. Terry’s black-and-white illustrations add atmosphere and depict an evidently all-white cast.

Steer Cthulhu-craving kiddies to Charles Gilman’s fearful and funny Lovecraft Middle School. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93578-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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An elevated outing, perhaps a touch vague but, as ever, magnificently designed.

BELIEVE

A POP-UP BOOK OF POSSIBILITIES

A pop-up invitation to dream big.

With his latest set of seemingly miraculous white pop-ups, Sabuda urges expansive life goals. Accompanying a flat image of a small pine cone, the phrase “When I grow up” concludes, with a page turn, “I will stand TALL,” next to a towering tree. “When I strive for my goals” (a small bee looping in for a landing) leads to a magnificent stand of finely petaled sunflowers and a satisfied “I will savor the outcome.” A bowl of eggs turns to a swirling flight of birds when dreams are shared; dreaming “of the future” transforms a bath toy into a great ship in full sail; a multileveled castle is the result when “I build my life”; and finally the “humble beginning” envisioned as a paper airplane becomes a rocket blasting off “to a life among the stars.” Younger viewers may be more inclined to admire the way each model unfolds and marvel at its intricate paper engineering than to embellish the metaphorical images with specific personal ambitions—but the wide-angled outlook may inspire at least some longer thoughts. It’s easy to imagine this giving Oh, the Places You’ll Go a run for its money as a perennial graduation gift.

An elevated outing, perhaps a touch vague but, as ever, magnificently designed. (Pop-up picture book. 7-9, adult)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6397-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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