Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Short, funny, and illustrated - two chapter book reviews

I recently finished two short, easy-reading chapter books by two very popular authors - Kate DiCamillo and Jeff Kinney.


Kate DiCamillo is nothing if not unique.  Whether gifting us with the mystical, magical, Magician's Elephant, the breath of fresh air that was Mercy Watson, or the delightfully improbable hero, Despereaux, DiCamillo never shies away from a new horizon.  In fact, I feel as if she has as much fun writing her books as we have reading them.

How else, but in a spirit of fun and adventure, could she gather

  • Flora - a "natural-born cynic," and avid reader of The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto
  • Ulysses - a dreamy, poetic squirrel with a superpower (typing), garnered from the interior of a super-suction, multi-terrain vacuum
  • William Spiver - a temporarily blind boy who prefers to be known by his complete name, so as so distinguish himself "from the multiplicity of Williams in the world."
  • two loving, but flawed (aren't we/they all?) parents
  • delightful neighbors
and 
  • Mary Ann - a lamp
Humorous comic panels and sketches by K.G. Campbell are the perfect complement to this warm and funny, impossible story of love and poetry, friendship and family.

Flora &Ulysses resources:


  • Kinney, Jeff. 2013. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Book 8. New York: Amulet.

(Advance Reader Copy)

Download your own Hard Luck wallpaper here.
In Hard Luck, Greg Heffley finds himself temporarily friendless when Rowley gets a girlfriend and no longer has time to spend with Greg.  Since all of his previous life decisions have led to bad ends, Greg decides to trust his fate to chance, allowing an old Magic 8 Ball to make his choices.  How much worse can it get? (If you know Greg Heffley, you know it gets worse – much worse!)


This is not the funniest of the Wimpy Kid books, but abandonment and loneliness are not funny topics, and I give Jeff Kinney credit for tackling them, and doing it with  humor and hopefulness. Kids love the Wimpy Kid series, and they’ll love this one, too. Sure, it’s funny, but it may hit a bit closer to home than others in the series, and I don't think that's by chance.


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