cover image Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals

Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals

D.L. Green, illus. by Josh Alves. Capstone/Picture Window, $5.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-4048-7223-3

In one of four heavily illustrated novels launching the Zeke Meeks chapter book series, Green and Alves address fads, consumerism, and schoolyard tribulations with ample amounts of irreverent and self-referential humor. Third-grader Zeke likes to spend recess shooting hoops, but his friends have forsaken basketball (and all other physical activity) for Puppet Pals, a much-hyped brand of finger puppets that are inspiring Beanie Baby–like levels of devotion. Since no one will play with him, Zeke eventually caves in and buys a box of Puppet Pals, which only results in additional clashes with popular kids and bullies alike. Levelheaded Zeke is an entertaining and likable narrator (“I love happy endings.... Then I glanced at this book. I realized this isn’t the ending. There are a lot more pages left”), though other characters are less fully developed; the classmates’ banter gives the book a Saturday morning cartoon sensibility, underscored by Alves’s Nickelodeon-ready spot art. Amid all the one-liners, Green encourages readers not to just follow the herd—especially when expensive “bits of colored felt” are involved. Ages 7–10. (Feb.)