A quick but adventuresome paddle into a mysterious realm.

FIELD TRIP TO THE OCEAN DEEP

The ocean’s depths offer extra wonders to a child who is briefly left behind on a class trip.

In the wake of their Field Trip to the Moon (2019), a racially diverse group of students boards a submarine (yellow, but not that one) for a wordless journey to the ocean’s bottom. Donning pressure suits, the children follow their teacher past a swarm of bioluminescent squid, cluster around a black smoker, and pause at an old shipwreck before plodding back. One student, though, is too absorbed in taking pictures to catch the signal to depart and is soon alone amid ancient ruins—where a big, striped, friendly, finny creature who is more than willing to exchange selfies joins the child, but it hides away when the sub-bus swoops back into sight to pick up its stray. Though The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor (1994) carries a considerably richer informational load, in his easy-to-follow sequential panels Hare does accurately depict a spare assortment of benthic life and features, and he caps the outing with a labeled gallery of the errant student’s photos (including “Atlantis?” and “Pliosaur?”). The child is revealed at the end to be Black. Hare also adds cutaway views at the end of a diving suit and the sub. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 40% of actual size.)

A quick but adventuresome paddle into a mysterious realm. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4630-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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