THE DUNDERHEADS

From the Dunderheads series , Vol. 2

A group of underachievers engages in a battle of wits with their unsympathetic teacher and emerges triumphant. Sound familiar? Maybe so, but readers have never seen the story play out quite this way before. Fleischman’s characters verge on caricature—the problem-solving narrator is a clever boy nicknamed Einstein, his friend Junkyard collects cast-off items from everywhere and the ominously named Miss Breakbone delights in tormenting her students—and Roberts’s watercolor-and–pen-and-ink illustrations, reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s work, exaggerate their quirky qualities. The plot is deliciously outlandish, featuring an undercover caper complete with a hidden safe, grappling hooks made of paperclips, a classmate who just happens to be a hypnotist and a broken statuette with (real) emerald eyes. Of course the kids succeed—the only real mystery is whether their adventure will find an appreciative audience. Younger kids will likely miss the many references to classic films and other inside jokes, while older readers might have the tragically mistaken impression that this is beneath them. Share with special readers; it’s well worth the effort. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2498-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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