RODRICK RULES

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 2

In a second set of entries—of a planned three, all first published in somewhat different form online in installments—slacker diarist Greg starts a new school year. After a miserable summer of avoiding swim-team practice by hiding out in the bathroom (and having to wrap himself in toilet paper to keep from freezing), he finally passes on the dreaded “cheese touch” (a form of cooties) to an unsuspecting new classmate, then stumbles through another semester of pranks and mishaps. On the domestic front, his ongoing wars with older brother Rodrick, would-be drummer in a would-be metal band called Löded Diper, share center stage with their mother’s generally futile parenting strategies. As before, the text, which is done in a legible hand-lettered–style font, is liberally interspersed with funny line drawings, many of which feature punch lines in speech balloons. Though even less likable that Junie B. Jones, Greg is (well, generally) at least not actively malicious, and so often is he the victim of circumstance or his own schemes gone awry that readers can’t help but feel empathy. This reasonably self-contained installment closes with a truce between the siblings. A temporary one, more than likely. (Illustrated fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9473-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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Despite its lackluster execution, this story’s simple premise and basic vocabulary make it suitable for younger readers...

HOME OF THE BRAVE

From the author of the Animorphs series comes this earnest novel in verse about an orphaned Sudanese war refugee with a passion for cows, who has resettled in Minnesota with relatives.

Arriving in winter, Kek spots a cow that reminds him of his father’s herd, a familiar sight in an alien world. Later he returns with Hannah, a friendly foster child, and talks the cow’s owner into hiring him to look after it. When the owner plans to sell the cow, Kek becomes despondent. Full of wide-eyed amazement and unalloyed enthusiasm for all things American, Kek is a generic—bordering on insulting—stereotype. His tribe, culture and language are never identified; personal details, such as appearance and age, are vague or omitted. Lacking the quirks and foibles that bring characters to life, Kek seems more a composite of traits designed to instruct readers than an engaging individual in his own right.

Despite its lackluster execution, this story’s simple premise and basic vocabulary make it suitable for younger readers interested in the plight of war refugees. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36765-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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