Funny and light but with enough of a plot to keep readers interested.

THE WACKY WINTER WONDERLAND!

From the Hubble Bubble series

Pandora and Granny continue their magical partnership in this chapter book that presents three discrete stories.

In the first, Granny creates lots of Christmas fun at a disappointing Winter Wonderland. When they arrive, the promised snow is made of shaving foam; the ice rink is “just dirty sheets of bubble wrap stuck together.” There are no reindeer, just dogs with antlers, and the sleigh is a pig trough. With several flicks of her wand, Granny transforms everything into the “most wacky and wonderful” Winter Wonderland for Pandora and her friends Jake and Nellie. Pandora is white and so is Jake, but Nellie is darker-skinned in the illustrations. In “Best in Show,” Cobweb the cat easily wins first prize with his beautiful grooming, courtesy of Pandora’s hard work, and his tightrope and trapeze act, thanks to Granny. In “Museum Mayhem!” Granny acts as the chaperon at a class sleepover at the history museum. Using her magic to bring history to life, she introduces the class to Vikings, Egyptians, Tudors, and Stone Age animals. She even turns Mr. Bibble, the teacher, into Henry VIII. Amusing line-and-wash drawings enhanced with red appear on almost every page, making this beginning chapter book very attractive for newly proficient readers.

Funny and light but with enough of a plot to keep readers interested. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9624-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more