Reviews

 People Are Talking About Iggy

“This book is deeply ethical and totally hilarious. It’s wise, generous, and delightfully unsanctimonious. Seriously: The Best of Iggy is one of the finest and funniest middle-grade books I’ve read in years.”
Mac Barnett, author of the bestselling Terrible Two series

 

“If you’ve ever done anything you regretted, or never regretted anything you’ve done, IGGY is for you.”
–Jon Scieszka, inaugural
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

 

“You’d have to have a heart of stone not to love Iggy. It’s not his fault he’s always in trouble. Well, it’s mostly his fault, but there are Very Compelling Extenuating Circumstances. Wise, sensible, smart children everywhere will hurl themselves (safely) at this hilarious new series from Annie Barrows.”
Sophie Blackall, Caldecott Medal Winner and illustrator of the Ivy + Bean series

 

“Warning: Do not let ‘extenuating circumstances’ keep you from getting to know the inimitable Iggy. You’ll be laughing so hard—pancake everywhere—that you won’t even realize the young troublemaker just stole your heart.”
Megan McDonald, author of the Judy Moody and STINK series

 

“Only Annie Barrows could have penned this outrageously clever, laugh-out-loud book, a magical feat that somehow combines hilarious hijinks with a thoughtful look at why we make mistakes — and how we make amends. I haven’t adored a well-intentioned troublemaker this much since Henry Huggins and Junie B. Guaranteed fun, this is the perfect family read.”
Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal Winner for The One and Only Ivan”

 

The New York Times Book Review
Written by Annie Barrows (of “Ivy and Bean” fame) and illustrated by Sam Ricks, The Best of Iggy (Putnam, 144 ppp, $13.99; ages 8-12) is not what most people might imagine as a graphic novel. It is more of a heavily illustrated middle-grade tale. But its lively mix of text and both large and small black-and-white illustrations in a reader-friendly design of plenty of white space is a welcome variation in middle-grade storytelling.

Twenty fast-paced short chapters tell the story of a mischievous fourth grader named Iggy Frangi, who gets in trouble for three incidents. Barrows’s deadpan omniscient narrative voice is brilliant. Explaining that Iggy is the hero of the book only because he is the one who does things in it. Warning that all the things Iggy does (in this book) are bad. Helpfully listing the “Three Types of Things We Wish We Hadn’t Done.” And even more helpfully defining “extenuating circumstances.”

Fellow fourth graders will love Iggy for his honesty and humor. But everyone will probably love him most for his motto: “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”

 

Booklist, starred review
The Best of Iggy
By Annie Barrows. Illus. by Sam Ricks

Jan. 2020. 144p. Putnam, $13.99 (9781984813305). Gr. 2–5

Meet Iggy, a mostly good fourth-grader who frequently gets in trouble. As the story opens, he’s confined to his bedroom because his parents have (from his point of view) misunderstood the extenuating circumstances that led him to threaten another boy and follow him up the ladder to the shed roof, from which the other boy, “screaming, ‘Hellllllp,’” leapt onto the trampoline below. The book’s narrator, who has nearly as large and colorful a presence here as Iggy, frames the story around people’s regrets for their actions. Using three examples involving Iggy, she differentiates between the things he wishes he hadn’t just gotten caught doing, things he wishes he hadn’t done quite so much, and things he really, really wishes he hadn’t done at all. Desk racing, which falls into the latter category, ended with Iggy injuring his favorite teacher, crying, and feeling bad whenever he remembered the incident. Writing with a droll sense of humor, Barrows ensures that kids will enjoy Iggy’s antics and perhaps even reflect a bit. Ricks’ expressive, zany, black-and-white illustrations capture chaos and amplify the fun. The first of a series, this slender chapter book is inviting to pick up, hard to put down, and near-impossible to read without laughing out loud.

 

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
The Best of Iggy
By Annie Barrows. Illus. by Sam Ricks.

The actions of nine-year-old Iggy usually fall into one of three categories: things he says he wishes as he hadn’t done but really just wishes he hadn’t got caught doing; things he wishes he hadn’t done the way he did them; and things that he genuinely wishes he had not done. Getting golden boy Jeremy to jump off the roof of his shed falls into that first category, and making himself up with mom’s makeup and dad’s shaving cream is in line with the second; scaring the heck out of his favorite teacher by jokingly attacking her with a desk is a third-category action, though, which he feels pretty terrible about and needs to figure out how to make amends for. The lovable screwup is an old but perennially appealing trope, and Iggy is a prime example, clueless to how his actions might affect others, frustratingly lacking in foresight but also oddly admirable in his carefree spirit. Barrows’ framing is fresh and particularly helpful for early readers, as the direct address from the third-person narrator serves double duty as a wink-and-nod kind of humor and, more significantly, as scaffolding that guides youngsters through the reading experience. Lists, repetition, callbacks to previous events, and Ricks’ cartoony black and white art together build on developing literacy skills, and the book ends with an enthusiastic congratulations on finishing a twenty-chapter book. Young readers, especially those with a passion for mischief, will hope there are more chapters of Iggy’s exploits to come.  KQG

 

Publishers Weekly
The Best of Iggy
By Annie Barrows. Illus. by Sam Ricks.

“All of us do things we wish we hadn’t done” begins this lively illustrated series opener about Iggy Frangi, a mischievous, good-hearted nine-year-old who frequently lands himself in trouble and only sometimes regrets it. The omniscient narrator describes Iggy’s world with a dry tone (“He has to stay in his room until dinnertime. It’s two thirty in the afternoon”), detailing the events—described as “extenuating circumstances”—that have contributed to Iggy’s ill-advised actions. Short chapters tell the story of three occurrences: Iggy inadvertently goading Jeremy Greerson into jumping off the roof onto a trampoline, raiding the family medicine cabinet for an overzealous prank, and racing classroom desks toward an unsuspecting fourth-grade teacher. Of the three, the last inspires regret and thoughtful introspection. With Iggy, Barrows (the Ivy and Bean series) has created a realistic kid—passionate, funny, and sometimes misguided—whom readers will surely root for as he gains awareness of the relationship between choices and consequences. Black-and-white illustrations by Ricks highlight Iggy’s antic nature. Ages 8–12.

 

Kirkus Reviews
The Best of Iggy
By Annie Barrows. Illus. by Sam Ricks.

The portrait of a boy as a young rascal: Iggy doesn’t really mean to be “bad,” does he?

A narrator in an amusing direct address and somewhat adult voice serves as both apologist and somewhat bemused observer of three incidents recounted in 20 very short chapters. Iggy Frangi is 9 and in fourth grade. He likes his teacher and tolerates his family—mother, father, sisters Maribel (older) and Molly (younger). Like many people his age, Iggy doesn’t realize that something is wrong with what he is doing until either he is in the middle of doing it (and is reprimanded) or until it’s too late. Ricks’ cartoon illustrations portray Iggy and his family as white-presenting and his lively friends as slim boys with dark skin of various shades. In the first story Iggy defends his own honor and dignity with a strategy involving a skateboard, ladder, and trampoline in a way that only just avoids complete disaster. In the second, Iggy’s flair for going big gets slightly out of hand when he “los[es] his mind” in an incident involving shaving cream and lipstick. The third story involves his teacher and a minor injury and is an incident Iggy regrets “even years later.” Authorial asides combine with amusing cartoons (the universal strikethrough symbol is enlivened by repetitions of “nope” forming the outer circle) to enlist readers as co-conspirators.

Funny, silly, and fairly empathetic—and perhaps even consoling to young, impulsive people who hope to be better (someday). (Fiction. 7-10)