Every kid—and every parent—who’s ever suffered through a family road trip will feel as one with Greg.

THE LONG HAUL

You’d think that if anyone would know better, it would be Greg Heffley’s mother.

But no. When she reads an article in Family Frolic magazine about wholesome family road trips, she insists on taking one right now. What ensues is the kind of totally over-the-top mayhem that the Wimpy Kid’s fans have come to expect—and more. The family packs too much stuff to fit into the car, so they decide to tow Dad’s utterly unseaworthy boat as extra cargo space. Mom insists on educational enrichment (learn-to-speak-Spanish CDs, lame-o car games), “real food” (brown-bag “Mommy Meals” instead of fast food) and “authentic” fun (a country fair with no rides but a guess-the-pig’s-weight contest in which the prize is the pig; baby Manny wins). They spend the night in the absolute quintessence of a cruddy motel. Two slapstick driving sequences are both Hollywood-ready and extremely funny, especially in Kinney’s accompanying cartoons; Greg’s free-associative riff on humorless do-gooders who seek to censor such potty-humor classics as a wink-and-a-nod–disguised Captain Underpants will find an appreciative audience. By taking the Heffleys on the road, Kinney both gives himself an almost universally familiar experience to lampoon and places Greg in the rather unusual position of being almost entirely justified in his misanthropy, which is downright refreshing.

Every kid—and every parent—who’s ever suffered through a family road trip will feel as one with Greg. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1189-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2014

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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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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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