Readers will be stoked too about this fresh, funny, way-cool slice of Americana. (Early reader. 6 & up)

DUDE

FUN WITH DUDE AND BETTY

This cheeky debut from Pliscou and Dunne pokes fun at traditional reading primers while reveling in California surf culture.

Truly non-bogus retro artwork in the style of 1950s Dick and Jane illustrations evokes a nostalgic sensibility with contemporary updates—including a notably multicultural cast of characters in several beach scenes. The pictures throughout the book are brightly colored and detailed, with endpapers decorated with paintings of surfboards and characters that rely more on gestural strokes than detail. The control of the text is intentionally broken to incorporate “surf-speak” on nearly every page, including when Dude’s friend Betty is introduced: “Betty is a righteous surf bunny. She does not live in the Valley.” While this might undermine the book’s success as a beginning reader, it totally ratchets up the humor in a most excellent way. After Mother and Father ask him if he’s cleaned his room and done his homework, Dude and Betty don’t “go” like Dick and Jane, nor does his dog Bud “run” like Spot—they “bail” and head back to the beach. “Waves are happening,” reads the final page. “Dude is stoked.”

Readers will be stoked too about this fresh, funny, way-cool slice of Americana. (Early reader. 6 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-175690-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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