THE BASQUE DRAGON

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 2

Elliot and Uchenna, now full-fledged members of the Unicorn Rescue Society, are back for a second adventure following series opener The Creature of the Pines (2018).

Opening the day after the previous book ends, Elliot finds a mysterious package awaiting him on his front step. He is afraid that the package, containing a book called The Country of Basque, portends another strange day—and he’s right. He and his friend Uchenna are whisked away by Professor Fauna in his unreliable single-propeller plane to the Basque Country. Even if readers can suspend disbelief long enough to believe that a single-prop plane with three passengers (and a small Jersey Devil) could safely cross the Atlantic, they may still wonder, as Elliot does, about the wisdom of flying off with a weird teacher, especially without informing anyone of their whereabouts. In the Basque Country, they meet fellow Society member Mixtel Mendizabal. Mixtel explains how he took up the mantle of caring for a dragon that has been kidnapped by—no surprise—the rich, greedy Schmoke brothers, villains of the first book. Gidwitz and Casey sprinkle in some substance by examining the difference between isolation and independence and, refreshingly, questioning and rejecting gender norms through Uchenna’s character. However, the lack of character development and the combination of unrealistic and predictable elements of this second offering may leave readers cold. Elliot is white, Uchenna is black, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Not fantastic. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3173-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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