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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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