Could the new fifth grader be a thief?
In this third installment in the Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw series (loosely based on the Robin Hood mythos), green-hoodie–clad Robin Loxley decides that she will befriend Wilu Johnson, the new student at Nottingham Elementary, no matter what. Robin’s friends, the Merry Misfits, try to welcome him in, but he is standoffish and aloof, proclaiming he is a “solo kid.” At Nottingham, good behavior and grades are incentivized with Bonus Bucks; when Wilu’s arrival coincides with the mysterious disappearance of Bonus Bucks, he is immediately suspected as the perpetrator. Robin is sure he is innocent, but will she be able to prove it? Loveless’ newest installment follows its predecessors’ format, with short, bustling chapters punctuated with distinctive crayonlike full-color illustrations and comics panels. Despite the breezy pacing, Robin’s friendship journey with Wilu feels tedious and heavy-handed, lessons like “mean nicknames are a bad call” plopping into readers’ laps. In addition to the forced cheer and morality, series conventions, such as the rapping twins and Robin’s references to foods, feel contrived and formulaic instead of like comforting touchstones. Robin is White while the rest of the Merry Misfits are diverse. Wilu has brown skin, and the fact that suspicion immediately falls on him, a kid of color, is not interrogated.
Doesn’t come close to the bull’s-eye.
(Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 192
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020