Readers who enjoyed the first will want to share this trip as well, but fresh ideas are needed if there's to be a third...


A boy, a dad, two dogs, and a much-needed field trip.

As in Road Trip (2013), Ben sets out on a journey with his dad. Ben plans to convince his father of his critical need to attend a new ice hockey academy. His dad may have other plans, however. They're accompanied by quite a crew: Atticus, the family's aging but wise border collie, who just wants to keep his flock of people together; Conor, their exuberant puppy; Brig, an always-hungry house-renovating apprentice; and twins Jacob and Charlotte, who are Ben's classmates. The supposed purpose of the expedition is to catch up with the rest of the class, which is on an extended field trip. Nothing ever works out the way it's planned, however, and the oft-silly action teeters on the brink of farce, as Ben tries to wangle an unscheduled hockey academy tryout, the twins attempt to broaden their educational horizons, Brig eats yet another strange concoction, and Atticus and Conor offer their own takes on the evolving situation. The Paulsens travel familiar ground; their first outing felt fresh, but this reads like something of a retread: gather some amusingly depicted, offbeat characters in a vehicle, add some father-son conflict, and take them on a bumpy ride.

Readers who enjoyed the first will want to share this trip as well, but fresh ideas are needed if there's to be a third journey. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49674-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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A charming series opener.


From the Magic in the Walls series , Vol. 1

A foundling mouse sets out to uncover the mystery of her origins and of the magical needle sized for humans that was left with her.

Delphine’s travels begin with a summons to the palace, where her growing reputation as a brilliant seamstress commands an order for a ball gown for Princess Petits-Oiseaux—and also gives her a chance to discover exciting hints about a vanished order of needle-wielding magic mice known as the Threaded and of an ancient war with the rats. Meanwhile, no sooner does Midnight, cruel king of the rats, learn that the needle they have been seeking for a century has been found than said old war suddenly heats up and turns into a deadly chase. Also meanwhile, only barely noticed by the animal cast but sure to snag readers’ attention, certain events involving another seamstress, a pumpkin coach, a ball, a prince, and a glass slipper are happening above the floorboards in the parallel human world. That isn’t the only sly touch in this bibbidi bobbidi debut, which is rich in clearly delineated character types, features plenty of brisk action, and is also, overall, more than a bit reminiscent in tone and setting to Brian Jacques’ Redwall series (though with more focus on fashion than food). While this volume is mostly setup, heroes and villains alike end up on their marks, and plenty of loose ends remain to stitch up later.

A charming series opener. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-04802-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Riveting, inspiring, and sometimes hilarious.


If you made a recording to be heard by the aliens who found the iPod, what would you record?

For 11-year-old Alex Petroski, it's easy. He records everything. He records the story of how he travels to New Mexico to a rocket festival with his dog, Carl Sagan, and his rocket. He records finding out that a man with the same name and birthday as his dead father has an address in Las Vegas. He records eating at Johnny Rockets for the first time with his new friends, who are giving him a ride to find his dead father (who might not be dead!), and losing Carl Sagan in the wilds of Las Vegas, and discovering he has a half sister. He even records his own awful accident. Cheng delivers a sweet, soulful debut novel with a brilliant, refreshing structure. His characters manage to come alive through the “transcript” of Alex’s iPod recording, an odd medium that sounds like it would be confusing but really works. Taking inspiration from the Voyager Golden Record released to space in 1977, Alex, who explains he has “light brown skin,” records all the important moments of a journey that takes him from a family of two to a family of plenty.

Riveting, inspiring, and sometimes hilarious. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-18637-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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