MR. PENGUIN AND THE CATASTROPHIC CRUISE

From the Mr. Penguin series , Vol. 3

Feathered fussbudget Mr. Penguin and friends return in a third middle-grade adventure, tossing every nautical trope into a gleeful omnishambles.

The celebrated Mr. Penguin has embarked upon a much-anticipated (and, he hopes, very nonadventurous) luxury cruise with his devoted chums Colin, a kung fu–fighting spider; Edith Hedge, a usefully equipped human; and Gordon, a very peculiar pigeon. Shenanigans inevitably ensue, and soon the quartet are up to their eyeballs in coded messages, possible pirates, steampunk mechanisms, and pantoworthy disguises—not to mention a mysterious island, a sea monster, a trench-coated secret agent, and red herrings galore. It’s all gloriously silly, as the (extremely British) humor runs the gamut from groan-inducing puns to subtle meta-textual drollery; but the twisty roller coaster of a plot doesn’t lack for genuine suspense. The pear-shaped Mr. Penguin—prone to panic and a fish-finger sandwich aficionado—is a delightful protagonist, and each of his companions (yes, even Gordon!) gets an opportunity to save the day. The over-the-top cast is cheerfully varied, with several human characters of color. The copious black, white, and orange illustrations reminiscent of Quentin Blake lend the story a daffy verve, and the short chapters with cliffhanger endings make for a perfect read-aloud. Readers need not be familiar with earlier volumes to appreciate this one.

Ridiculously charming. (Adventure. 6-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-213-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more