Reviews for Middle school misadventures

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

How can a boy with no talent win a talent show?Living with his single dad, Newell spends his days clowning around with his friends and avoiding his principal, Mr. Todd. After Newell misses a number of classes, Mr. Todd threatens that one more missed class will land him in summer school. When the inevitable happens, Newell is crushed. However, Mr. Todd throws him an implausible curveball: If Newell participates in the school talent show, he may be pardoned from the horror of spending his summer at school. After trying out a number of performance options, Newell realizes that he might not have any talents: How is he supposed to pull this off? This graphic offering hits all the notes young readers would expect in their humorous middle-grade fare: heaps of fart and puke jokes, a quick pace, and an upbeat ending alongside recognizably styled, brightly colored comic illustrations. Unfortunately, it feels a bit boilerplate with its unrelenting peppy tone, campy antics, and well-worn tropes. Newell's nemesis is a know-it-all girl whose nefarious plotting predictably backfires, ultimately helping him. Newell and most of the other characters depicted present white, though Newell's best friend, Collin, is a boy of color. Despite its overarching derivative feel, this should find an easy readership among fans of James Patterson's I Funny or Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid.This graphic offering has definite mainstream appeal but is all too familiar. (Graphic fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

When Newell mistakes a Wednesday for a Saturday, his punishment for being late yet again is the most dreaded of all summer school. But Principal Todd will commute his sentence if Newell performs in the middle-school talent show. The problem is, Newell has no discernible talents. The day creeps closer, things get worse. School is inviting the entire town! His father is sending out invitations! He has to wear a penguin suit . . . with a tutu! For all its fast-paced humor, Newell's story is filled with a building anxiety that will fill middle-schoolers with urgent suspense and the sweet relief of recognition. The humor, pacing, and visual flights of imagination owe plenty to Babymouse, as does the wiry linework, which is part Jennifer Holm, part Charles Schultz on uppers. But that's not a bad thing; middle-school readers will welcome it. The realistic and upbeat view of friendship is a plus, too, but Newell's solution provides the most original and uplifting surprise, one that relies on sharing the spotlight rather than hogging it.--Jesse Karp Copyright 2019 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
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Newell is struggling to survive the final weeks of the school year when, on one calamitous day in May, Principal Todd sentences him to a fate worse than extra math homework: summer school. Newell has one possible out-if he can perform spectacularly at the school talent show, which is just a few days away, Mr. Todd will return his summer freedom. Unfortunately, Newell's talents are lacking, and his prospects look even worse after his archenemy, Clara, signs him up to perform "as a penguin in a tutu." Even as his friends pitch in to help him assemble an act, Newell feels that he might be a lost cause. Debut author Platt, creator of the web comic Mister & Me, relies on sparse backgrounds and elastic line work to direct the focus toward his characters' often hyper-reactive states. The end result is a smooth-flowing Calvin and Hobbes-like school and family narrative that will keep readers enjoying both the gags and the plight of the fourth-wall-breaking protagonist-equal parts Walter Mitty and Dennis the Menace-all the way up to the grand finale. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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