The Principal’s Underwear is Missing

BOOKLIST ONLINE – April 7, 2017

“Along with an arresting title and laughs aplenty, this helter-skelter caper features two middle-schoolers who aren’t quite as typecast as they seem. After apologizing for the PE accident that put the arm of eighthgrade queen bee Sloan “Selfie” St. Clair in a sling, lowly sixth-grader Becca Birnbaum is astonished to get not the brutal cut she expects but a peaceable “No biggie” and some unexpected exposure to the world of the supercool. Unfortunately, Becca’s impulsive offer to do Selfie a favor leads to a major crisis when she accidentally rescues the wrong bag from the principal’s office and its contents (see title) are stolen. Can Becca and Selfie get the undergarment back before it’s run up the school’s flagpole? If there’s more than a hint of exploitation in this unlikely alliance, it runs both ways, as shy, sensible Becca accepts becoming her dazzling-but-ditzy new acquaintance’s fixer as a fair price for flirting with an undeniably exciting lifestyle. Kowitt’s cartoon insertions supply the romp with punchlines and wry visual commentary.” — John Peters



“In this amusing read with its Wimpy Kid-like line drawings, kids will learn that it’s OK to associate with someone who’s different — you might even have fun. Kowitt’s well-written title gets school social dynamics right and will be appreciated by readers who enjoy mean girl stories, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries series, and other school survival tales.” –School Library Journal


The Loser List


In a book that mimics Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series both in scope and design, seventh-grader Danny is trying to navigate choppy middle-school waters. “I’m about halfway down the food chain,” he explains. “Not president of the Mathletes, but no one’s saving me a seat at the Cool Table. I can’t afford a lot of slippage.” After the budding comics artist refuses to hand over his beloved drawing pen to a classmate, she adds his and his friend Jasper’s names to the “Loser List” scribbled on the girls’ bathroom wall. Danny’s attempt to eradicate their names lands him in detention, where he finds an unlikely ally in school bully Axl, which alienates Danny from Jasper, among other complications. The story unfolds in a handwritten-looking font on lined pages amid ample spot illustrations. Danny’s cartoons, sidebars, and lists (“Top Three Signs You’re Going to Summer School”) should enhance the book’s appeal for reluctant readers. The design of Kowitt’s (The Sweetheart Deal) story ought to attract Wimpy Kid fans, and the book’s “be yourself” message makes it a more earnest alternative. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)


BOOKLIST – March 11, 2011

Seventh-grader Danny Shine sticks close to his best friend, Jasper, and spends every waking moment reading, drawing, shopping for, or thinking about comic books. Together, the two friends have had success flying under the radar until the day when a run-in with mean-girl Chantal gets Danny’s name put on the dreaded Loser List on the girls’ bathroom wall. An attempt to remove it lands him in detention, where his drawing skills earn him a role as the Skulls’ resident graffiti and Sharpie-tattoo designer. Hanging with the bad kids has its perks, but when Danny finds himself inadvertently betraying comic-book store owner Logan, a trusted friend, and embarrassing himself in front of his idol, Danny reunites with Jasper and gets back to his geek roots to set everything right. Danny’s humorous line drawings help tell the story, making this a fun and accessible book for reluctant readers and comics fans. Danny is a genuinely likable character whose reactions are understandable, and readers will empathize with him as his dilemma snowballs, cheering at his final triumph. —   Heather Booth


Revenge of the loser

KIRKUS REVIEW – April 1, 2012

What’s a former “loser” to do when the absolute perfect dude moves to town (from California, of course) and draws the attention of everyone?
In the series opener, Danny Shine, comics lover and best artist at Gerald Ford Middle School, and his best friend, brainiac Jasper, managed to get their names off the Loser List (a secret list in the girl’s second-floor bathroom, managed by school bully and diva Chantal). They’re not the most popular guys in school, but they have a seat at lunch and some respect for their individual talents. Then along comes Ty, with his cool looks and his admirable fundraising for good causes and his positive attitudes and helpful nature… Danny and Jasper decide he must be stopped! When they discover that Ty is abysmal at rapping, they devise a talent show to embarrass him in front of the whole school, but do they have the heart to go through with the plan? Kowitt’s second Wimpy Kid–esque tale of middle-school fringers pretty much repeats the first. Line drawings with plenty of goofiness and grossness will add to the appeal.
An easy read with a good heart; fans of the first will respond well again. (Fiction. 9-12)