Rowley comes into his own in this superb installment.

ROWLEY JEFFERSON'S AWESOME FRIENDLY ADVENTURE

The Wimpy Kid’s best pal writes an adventure story in this follow-up to Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid (2019).

Rowley Jefferson returns for his second solo outing, this time with the ambition of writing a book. The well-meaning, kindhearted Rowley doesn’t want fame or fortune from his story (he admits he isn’t even particularly interested in getting it published) but instead hopes to make a book good enough for his parents to read to him at bedtime. When Rowley turns to his buddy Greg for editorial assistance with his work in progress, however, Greg sees nothing but merchandising opportunities, big-budget–movie adaptations, and fast-food tie-ins. The book alternates between chapters of Rowley’s adventure story, which features young Roland and his muscleman sidekick, Garg the Barbarian, on a quest to save Roland’s mom from the wicked White Warlock, and editorial sessions with Greg. Kinney’s imagination sparks Rowley’s tale with silly creatures and adventure while the author’s wit peppers the editorial sessions with some solid jokes regarding the children’s-publishing scene (a Sherlock Holmes cameo may keep the story out of book fairs due to his pipe; a vampire-romance plot will age the book into the lucrative teen market). Rowley’s previous adventure breathed new life into the Wimpy Kid franchise, but here Rowley comes into his own as a driving force. This entry improves upon its predecessor in every way: The gags are funnier, the storytelling is sharper, and the characters are crisper. Rowley, Greg, and all Rowley’s characters are paper white.

Rowley comes into his own in this superb installment. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4909-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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