Michael Fry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $13.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-358-26961-8
In this illustrated novel, 12-year-old Larry, who is white, is shocked when his best friend, Grimm, who is Black, returns as a ghost two weeks after he died saving a cat in a storm. To discover what is keeping Grimm among the living, the friends try to cross items off their unfinished Totally To-Do List—bathing in spaghetti, talking to every kid in school, kissing a girl, and feeding their neighbor’s terrifying dog— with varying, often comic, results. (Of the spaghetti soak: “You know, it’s interesting. Like a noodle blanket.”) But when they run afoul of “class freak” Boogie MacFarland, supposedly raised by bears, Larry and Grimm realize that their pranks and escapades, however well-meaning, have personal consequences for others. Fry (the How to Be a Supervillain series) balances a serious premise with a gleefully manic energy as Larry and Grimm wrestle with their dilemma and Larry slowly learns how to live without his best friend, in part with the help of a sympathetic therapist (“It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to miss your friend”). Fry’s black-and-white linework—vibrant and just a little over-the-top—adds hilarity, as in the opening sequence, where the two become fast friends while facing an overjostled soda can primed for detonation. Ages 8–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/12/2020
Release date: 01/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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