It’s time for the Wimpy Kid machine to grind to a halt

THE THIRD WHEEL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 7

Greg Heffley, that most profoundly unlikable of antiheroes, is back with another litany of complaints.

The book opens with a lengthy lampoon of the efforts of overeager parents to produce genius children (completely fruitless, as Greg’s post-utero experience clearly demonstrates) and ends with an enormously unpleasant Valentine’s Day dance. In between, Greg schemes for the upper hand, as always. The recession brings a cautionary example to the household in the person of his loser uncle Gary, who crashes on the couch while recouping losses from the purchase of cartons of misspelled souvenir “Botson” T-shirts. Oh, the irony: Though Greg recognizes his uncle as a creepy jerk, he does not see in Gary his inevitable future self. Will readers? Seven books into the series, one would expect to see some growth in Greg’s character, but no. He's as self-serving and manipulative as ever, possibly even more so, and by this point, there are few laughs left to mine. One’s left wondering, what is the enduring appeal? Given that Kinney’s oeuvre has spawned an entire subgenre (though he did not originate it—Marissa Moss' Amelia’s Notebook and its sequels combined faux-handwritten journals with drawings beginning in 1995), it's mystifying that kids are not flocking to the many alternatives now available.

It’s time for the Wimpy Kid machine to grind to a halt . (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0584-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2012

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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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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