CLASS CLOWN FISH

From the Squidding Around series , Vol. 2

Deep under the sea, a tempestuous squid must contend with his temper.

Following the events of Fish Feud (2020), Squizzard Silvershell, a hotheaded, tomato-red squid, is mad. After submitting his comics to a magazine contest, he learns he has lost, and his anger is festering. Deciding mischief will cheer him up, he pulls a prank on his teacher, Mr. Cuker. He is immediately sent to Principal Kraken and put in detention for a week, which causes him to miss the Coral Carnival. In detention, he and sea urchin Annie, a fellow student under punishment, help crossing guard Mr. Jaleel, an eel, clean the basement. Squizzard eventually comes to understand why his behavior was inappropriate, coming to a simply reasoned contrition. Sherry’s oceanic graphic offering is high on pep and alluring, vibrantly colored art, threading information about marine life throughout the narrative. This second volume in the series loses a bit of momentum, though; those who enjoyed Squizzard’s previous benign naughtiness may find his rapid repentance a bit hurried. Multiple plot threads are easy enough to follow but seem a bit cramped. Sherry’s illustrations are bright and expressive, with more flashy colors than a well-stocked aquarium carrying the short chapters; economically worded panels keep the pages moving along swimmingly. Quibbles aside, with its buoyant pacing and intriguing facts, it offers much to appreciate. Further facts on coral and instructions on making a newsletter follow the story.

A fun, quick dip. (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-63670-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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