Not for young children, but good fun for middle-grade fans of fractured fairy tales as well as highly useful in classrooms.

NOBODY ASKED THE PEA

An extraordinarily arch and campy version of “The Princess and the Pea” is told from multiple points of view.

It opens with a cast of characters, each with a distinctive voice and typeface in the narrative, starting with Patrick the Pea, growing “rounder and firmer each day” and extremely pleased with himself. Queen Mildred hectors her son Harold about getting married, pronto, and she is the perfect stereotype of a controlling, nagging and obnoxious mother. Harold, meanwhile, just wants to hang around and hunt. A few princesses are met and sent away, until Princess Lucy appears in the castle hall, soaking wet and disheveled, and cannot sleep a wink on the pile of mattresses with Patrick the Pea hidden under them. Harold is kind of delighted to find an outdoorsy girl who loves to hunt, Queen Mildred is pleased to outshine the other queens in wedding planning (especially Queen Estelle, “who couldn’t plan a trip to the privy by herself”). The watercolor-and-pencil pastel-hued illustrations reveal deeply caricatured and exaggerated figures (including the mice and the horses, as well as Patrick the Pea).

Not for young children, but good fun for middle-grade fans of fractured fairy tales as well as highly useful in classrooms. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2224-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud.

THE NEWSPAPER CLUB

From the Newspaper Club series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Nellie’s investigative reporting leads her to solve a mystery, start a newspaper, and learn key lessons about growing up.

Nellie’s voice is frank and often funny—and always full of information about newspapers. She tells readers of the first meeting of her newspaper club and then says, “But maybe I’m burying the lede…what Dad calls it when a reporter puts the most interesting part…in the middle or toward the end.” (This and other journalism vocabulary is formally defined in a closing glossary.) She backtracks to earlier that summer, when she and her mother were newly moved into a house next to her mother’s best friend in rural Bear Creek, Maine. Nellie explains that the newspaper that employed both of her parents in “the city” had folded soon after her father left for business in Asia. When Bear Creek Park gets closed due to mysterious, petty crimes, Nellie feels compelled to investigate. She feels closest to her dad when on the park’s swings, and she is more comfortable interviewing adults than befriending peers. Getting to know a plethora of characters through Nellie’s eyes is as much fun as watching Nellie blossom. Although astute readers will have guessed the park’s vandalizers, they are rewarded by observing Nellie’s fact-checking process. A late revelation about Nellie’s father does not significantly detract from this fully realized story of a young girl adjusting admirably to new circumstances. Nellie and her mother present white; secondary characters are diverse.

Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9685-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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