Review: Down in the Dumps (3 books)

Today, I’m reviewing three children’s books by Wes Hargis. They are disgustingly cute in a way that will appeal to young kids (as attested to by my 8 year old grandson).

DOWN IN THE DUMPS: THE MYSTERY BOX by Wes Hargis

(#1 in Down in the Dumps series)

Fiction, Children (ages 6-10), Fantasy, 96 pages

4****

Blurb: The Secret Life of Pets meets The Bad Guys in DOWN IN THE DUMPS, an all-new, highly illustrated early chapter book series about three unlikely friends—a rotten banana, a broken tea pot, and a crusty blob of gum—and their adventures together in the local town landfill. To Nana, there isn’t a better, more beautiful home for a mushy, moldy banana than the Westerfield Waste Transfer & Recycling Center! Nana loves living at the dump! She welcomes every new piece of trash with a hardy hug and happy hello. And in The Mystery Box, the first adventure in the Down in the Dumps series, when a Teddy Tedd Ted doll still perfectly wrapped in his gift box arrives, Nana realizes that not everyone is ready to be thrown away. Will Nana and her friends be able to navigate the many dangers of the dump to help Teddy Tedd Ted find his way home? The Mystery Box is the first book in the Down in the Dumps series from beloved author-illustrator Wes Hargis. It will have even the most reluctant readers taking out the trash for more adventures! HarperChapters build confident readers one chapter at a time! With short, fast-paced books, art on every page, and milestone markers at the end of every chapter, they’re the perfect next step for fans of I Can Read!

Thoughts: This is the first in a series of books about characters who live in a garbage dump. The stories are cute, but make ample use of the disgusting stuff kids love. They are a cross between a graphic novel and a regular chapter story with each page being more picture than writing. The end of each chapter shows your progress—encouraging young readers to continue—and the end of some chapters contain a cheer for the reader because they finished X chapters and X words. The end of the book continues this encouragement and adds “Super Stinky Games” like “Think”, “Feel”, and “Act” that have you doing things that relate to the story—math, writing, drawing, and other activities. 

In this first book, we are introduced to the main characters—Nana (a dried banana), Mrs. Kettle (a broken tea kettle), and Moreland (a grouchy blob). There are also a couple of cockroaches who are definitely not nice. Nana and her friends find an unopened gift box and when they do open it, they discover a talking teddy bear. They are determined to get him out of the dump and into the hands of someone who can appreciate him. What I find interesting is that everything they go through, including a slime pool, Teddy comes out still clean and good looking at the end. Not very realistic, but, then, this is a fantasy.

Drawbacks: Some of the vocabulary might be too advanced for younger children (wallop, unexpected, bienvenidos, conveyor belt) so these books are definitely “read with” stories for parents/older people to read with the child. Plus some of the activities may need guidance. The biggest drawback for me was that the pictures were grey(black) and white. Color would definitely increase the appeal – but also increase the costs. So it is a fine balancing act for the publisher. 

Recommendation: While I found some of the story appropriately disgusting, younger kids will love it. And the educational aspects are fun and tie into the stories. The congratulations at the end of chapters and the story will encourage reluctant readers to continue. Recommended. 

Disclaimer: Thanks to the publisher for this ARC. I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

DOWN IN THE DUMPS: TRASH VS. TRUCSK by Wes Hargis

(#2 in Down in the Dumps series)

Fiction, Children (ages 6-10), Fantasy, 96 pages

4****

Blurb: The Secret Life of Pets meets The Bad Guys in DOWN IN THE DUMPS, an all-new, highly illustrated early chapter book series about three unlikely friends—a rotten banana, a broken tea pot, and a crusty blob of gum—and their adventures together in the local town landfill. Oh, no! In Trash vs. Trucks, the second book in the Down in the Dumps series, the trucks are planning to move Nana’s beautiful home at the Westerfield Waste Transfer and Recycling Center. And to a trash barge of all places, too! Nana isn’t about to give up her beloved dump without a fight, but she’ll need a plan first. Will Nana and her trash friends be able to save their home and stop the trucks from taking apart everything they’ve worked so hard to build. Trash vs. Trucks is the second book in the Down in the Dumps series from beloved author-illustrator Wes Hargis. It will have even the most reluctant readers taking out the trash for more adventures! HarperChapters build confident readers one chapter at a time! With short, fast-paced books, art on every page, and milestone markers at the end of every chapter, they’re the perfect next step for fans of I Can Read!

Thoughts: This is the second in a series of books about characters who live in a garbage dump. The stories are cute, but make ample use of the disgusting stuff kids love. They are a cross between a graphic novel and a regular chapter story with each page being more picture than writing. The end of each chapter shows your progress—encouraging young readers to continue—and the end of some chapters contain a cheer for the reader because they finished X chapters and X words. The end of the book continues this encouragement and adds “Super Stinky Games” like “Think”, “Feel”, and “Act” that have you doing things that relate to the story—math, writing, drawing, and other activities. 

In this book, Nana (a dried banana), Mrs. Kettle (a broken tea kettle), and Moreland (a grouchy blob) continue their adventures. The owners (portrayed as trucks) are planning to move the entire dump to a barge and pave over the area for a new parking lot. Nana doesn’t want to lose her home so she rallies all the trash in the area to come to her dump, thus increasing the size and making it too big for the trucks to move. 

Drawbacks: Some of the vocabulary might be too advanced for younger children so these books are definitely “read with” stories for parents/older people to read with the child. Plus some of the activities may need guidance. The biggest drawback for me was that the pictures were grey(black) and white. Color would definitely increase the appeal – but also increase the costs. So it is a fine balancing act for the publisher. 

Recommendation: While I found some of the story appropriately disgusting, younger kids will love it. And the educational aspects are fun and tie into the stories. The congratulations at the end of chapters and the story will encourage reluctant readers to continue. Recommended. 

Disclaimer: Thanks to the publisher for this ARC. I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

DOWN IN THE DUMPS: A VERY TRASHY CHRISTMAS by Wes Hargis

(#3 in Down in the Dumps series)

Fiction, Children (ages 6-10), Fantasy, 96 pages

4****

Blurb: 

The Secret Life of Pets meets The Bad Guys in DOWN IN THE DUMPS, an all-new, highly illustrated early chapter book series about three unlikely friends—a rotten banana, a broken tea pot, and a crusty blob of gunk—and their adventures together in the local town landfill. Santa who? Nana has never heard about Christmas until the old toys of the Westerfield Waste Transfer and Recycling Center tell her about the most magical night of the year! In A Very Trashy Christmas, the third book in the Down in the Dumps series, Nana learns that Santa Claus delivers toys to all the good boys and girls and so she insists on writing him her own letter. But when Santa arrives with their gifts in tow, the Forklift of Doom mistakes Santa’s sleigh for rubbish. Can Nana and her trash friends band together to save Christmas before it’s too late! A Very Trashy Christmas is the third book in the Down in the Dumps series from beloved author-illustrator Wes Hargis. It will have even the most reluctant readers writing Santa for more adventures! HarperChapters build confident readers one chapter at a time! With short, fast-paced books, art on every page, and milestone markers at the end of every chapter, they’re the perfect next step for fans of I Can Read!

Thoughts: This is the third in a series of books about characters who live in a garbage dump. The stories are cute, but make ample use of the disgusting stuff kids love. They are a cross between a graphic novel and a regular chapter story with each page being more picture than writing. The end of each chapter shows your progress—encouraging young readers to continue—and the end of some chapters contain a cheer for the reader because they finished X chapters and X words. The end of the book continues this encouragement and adds “Super Stinky Games” like “Think”, “Feel”, and “Act” that have you doing things that relate to the story—math, writing, drawing, and other activities. 

In this book, Nana (a dried banana) and her friends discover a toy Santa Claus, only they’ve never heard of him. They find out from other broken toys living in the landfill who he is and that he delivers toys to good girls and boys one night of the year. They send him on his way and decide to write him a letter. This is a story, as are all of them, about helping others out and feeling good about it. It’s also a cute Christmas story about believing in Santa (which is supported in the end). 

Drawbacks: Some of the vocabulary might be too advanced for younger children so these books are definitely “read with” stories for parents/older people to read with the child. Plus some of the activities may need guidance. The biggest drawback for me was that the pictures were grey(black) and white. Color would definitely increase the appeal – but also increase the costs. So it is a fine balancing act for the publisher. 

Recommendation: While I found some of the story appropriately disgusting, younger kids will love it. And the educational aspects are fun and tie into the stories. The congratulations at the end of chapters and the story will encourage reluctant readers to continue. Recommended. 

Disclaimer: Thanks to the publisher for this ARC. I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

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