RODRICK RULES

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 2

In a second set of entries—of a planned three, all first published in somewhat different form online in installments—slacker diarist Greg starts a new school year. After a miserable summer of avoiding swim-team practice by hiding out in the bathroom (and having to wrap himself in toilet paper to keep from freezing), he finally passes on the dreaded “cheese touch” (a form of cooties) to an unsuspecting new classmate, then stumbles through another semester of pranks and mishaps. On the domestic front, his ongoing wars with older brother Rodrick, would-be drummer in a would-be metal band called Löded Diper, share center stage with their mother’s generally futile parenting strategies. As before, the text, which is done in a legible hand-lettered–style font, is liberally interspersed with funny line drawings, many of which feature punch lines in speech balloons. Though even less likable that Junie B. Jones, Greg is (well, generally) at least not actively malicious, and so often is he the victim of circumstance or his own schemes gone awry that readers can’t help but feel empathy. This reasonably self-contained installment closes with a truce between the siblings. A temporary one, more than likely. (Illustrated fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9473-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed.

SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS

On a birthday trip to New York City, a girl learns about her roots, Harlem, and how to stay true to herself.

Eleven-year-old sneakerhead Amara is struggling to feel seen and heard. A new baby sister is on the way, her mom still wants to put her in dresses, and that birthday trip from the Portland, Oregon, suburbs to New York City that she so desperately wants feels out of reach. When Amara gets a family-history assignment, she is finally able to convince her mom to say yes to the trip, since it will allow Amara to meet her dad’s side of the family in person. In addition to the school project, her mom gives Amara a secret mission: get her dad and grandpa to spend time alone together to repair old wounds. Harlem proves unlike any place Amara has ever been, and as she explores where her father grew up she experiences black history on every street. Watson is a master at character development, with New York City and especially Harlem playing central roles. Through her all-black cast she seamlessly explores issues of identity, self, and family acceptance. Although the ending feels rushed, with no resolution between Amara and her mom, Amara’s concluding poem is powerful.

A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-108-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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HOME OF THE BRAVE

From the author of the Animorphs series comes this earnest novel in verse about an orphaned Sudanese war refugee with a passion for cows, who has resettled in Minnesota with relatives. Arriving in winter, Kek spots a cow that reminds him of his father’s herd, a familiar sight in an alien world. Later he returns with Hannah, a friendly foster child, and talks the cow’s owner into hiring him to look after it. When the owner plans to sell the cow, Kek becomes despondent. Full of wide-eyed amazement and unalloyed enthusiasm for all things American, Kek is a generic—bordering on insulting—stereotype. His tribe, culture and language are never identified; personal details, such as appearance and age, are vague or omitted. Lacking the quirks and foibles that bring characters to life, Kek seems more a composite of traits designed to instruct readers than an engaging individual in his own right. Despite its lackluster execution, this story’s simple premise and basic vocabulary make it suitable for younger readers interested in the plight of war refugees. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36765-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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