SWING IT, SUNNY

From the Sunny series , Vol. 2

A home-centered sequel to Sunny Side Up (2015), with incidents joyful and otherwise in a middle schooler’s life.

The tale is set in the 1976-77 school year and framed by references to TV shows of that era (both contemporaneous and reruns, including The Six Million Dollar Man, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island, with amusingly pithy show notes for each). The story unfolds in successive episodes of Sunny’s self-conceived The Sunny Show that confront her with domestic challenges ranging from little brother Teddy’s filled diaper (“Something Smells”) to the stormy holiday visit by formerly loving but now angry, troubled big brother Dale, come home from a military-style boarding school (“Six Million Dollar Boy”). Despite such low notes, though, the general trend is upbeat—with Gramps coming up from Florida for a visit, a sisterly, Indian-American teen neighbor named Neela Singh moving in next door (adding some diversity to the otherwise all-white main cast), and a heartening if long-distance thank-you from Dale for the pet rock Sunny gives him at Christmas being particular highlights. Using a combination of short exchanges of dialogue and frequent wordless reaction shots, the Holms again leverage simply drawn scenes colored by Pien into a loosely autobiographical narrative that is poignant and hilarious in turn and emotionally rich throughout.

Another radiant outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-74170-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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High-energy high jinks in a multicultural, or at least multispecies, setting.

THE CASE OF THE BATTLING BOTS

From the Tank & Fizz series

Young sleuths stumble on a demonic conspiracy to blow the lid off Slick City’s new sports arena. Just for a start.

Goblin Fizz Marlow and troll gearhead Tank Wrenchlin are convinced that slimeball schoolmate Rizzo Rawlins’ supposedly homemade battle bot illegally incorporates professional-grade code and components. Their search for proof leads them and elven trainee wizard Aleetha to several puzzles. Who is the mysterious “Codex,” and why is he (or she) supplying Rizzo as well as hacking Slick City’s computer systems to threaten disaster if the just-finished Slurp Stadium is opened for the upcoming Battle Bot Cup? How did the stadium come to be built over a magic stone that could, as old maps hint, serve as a portal to demon worlds? What can a trio of fourth-graders do, opposed by corrupt officials, a bully with a pair of hulking hench-ogres, and a local business tycoon with—as it turns out—a high-tech hand-held demon controller? Well, plenty, though not without a few missteps, help from a surprising temporary ally, and lots of climactic bot-smashing. In a slick mix of narrative blocks and panels of nonscary monsters delivering punch lines in dialogue balloons, the exploit careens along to a triumphant close.

High-energy high jinks in a multicultural, or at least multispecies, setting. (Graphic/mystery/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0813-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Likely to be lost in the crowd, but comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading—which, one thinks, is...

WONKENSTEIN

From the Creature from My Closet series , Vol. 1

Skye adds another Wimpy Kid to the growing bandwagon.

Sounding almost too nerdy to be true ("I'm kind of like a backup singer in the song of life"), 12-year-old Rob relates his tale in the now-requisite mix of block-print–type prose and line-drawn cartoon figures with punch lines or commentary in dialogue balloons. A string of hectic events follows the appearance of a manic mannequin from the midden of books and old science projects in his closet. He describes it as "a small, weird man who came up to just above my waist. He looked like two different people who had been smashed together." Comical chases, pranks, interactions with friends dependable and otherwise, mortifying mishaps in front of girls and like standard fare later, Rob has overcome severe stage fright to mend fences with classmate Janae and others by reciting a poem of apology at a school talent show. He has also been turned on to books by his discovery that the mannequin is an amalgam of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein's monster. In the end, Wonkenstein slips back into the closet—and out springs an even smaller Harry Potter/Chewbacca blend. Sequels, anyone?

Likely to be lost in the crowd, but comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading—which, one thinks, is exactly the point. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9268-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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