Fans of Korman’s school stories and caper novels may find this fluff just fun enough.

LEVEL 13

From the Slacker series , Vol. 2

Can Cam hit 50,000 subscribers on his game stream? Not with distractions like schoolwork.

In Slacker (2016), Cam Boxer tried to perpetuate his video game “lifestyle” by starting a fake do-gooder club at school; then everyone joined the Positive Action Group. Now it’s so successful (and the eighth-grader is such a hero) that he has no time to game. He and his best friends, Chuck and Pavel, devise a scheme to convince the student body that Cam is failing and needs to study instead of running the P.A.G. This works, and Cam’s stream takes off, especially after Cam starts playing a rare, early-release copy of “Guardians of Geldorf.” But then his classmates, worried about their hero, start offering homework help; a mysterious stalker comes to town; and Chuck’s budding relationship with P.A.G. second-in-command Daphne threatens both the game streaming and the three boys’ friendship. This sequel, narrated, as before, by the threesome and a few others by turns, is more of the same. Cam is no more likable, as he lies and cheats his way to unearned success. Nothing here is actually believable—a Zorro mask would not hide Cam’s identity—and a twist about questionable content in the game’s early release is profoundly unexciting. As before, the cast defaults to white, with diversity largely cued via naming convention.

Fans of Korman’s school stories and caper novels may find this fluff just fun enough. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-28620-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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