BOOKS
How To Properly Dispose of Planet Earth
illus. by Paul Noth. 192p. Bloomsbury. Jan. 2019. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781681196596.
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Gr 3–5—Happy Conklin Jr., aka Hap, is back again in the next installment of Noth's wacky, other-dimensional, family adventure. He's still the only sixth grader who has to shave several times a day to avoid looking like "Rip Van Winkle," the result of one of his father's experiments. This time around, he's trying to find the courage to ask a girl, Nev, to be his lab partner in science class. Squeep!, the lizard full of mysterious messages, is trying to help but keeps disappearing into another dimension through the "Doorganizer." With the help of his good sister, Kayla, and the interference of his evil sister, Alice, Hap inadvertently ends up ripping open a black hole which threatens to swallow up planet Earth. The plot, which is full of twists and turns yet still tends to drag, culminates in a cliffhanger involving Hap's power-hungry, evil Grandma making an appearance. Hap is the ultimate hapless underdog but readers may not care enough to be rooting for him. The nearly all-white cast of characters and the implausible, at times nonsensical, plot twists may alienate many readers. This one is also peppered with Noah's drawings and panels. This is not a standalone read.
VERDICT A confusing, not terribly interesting sequel. Purchase only where the first in the series is very popular.

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