Good, clean, monstrous fun.

BRUTE-CAKE

From the The Binder of Doom series , Vol. 1

The Notebook of Doom series’ Alexander Bopp and the Super Secret Monster Patrol are back with a new host of not-so-scary-monsters for emerging readers.

The school year has ended, the city of Stermont is safe from the monsters that had plagued it, and Alexander has drifted apart from his S.S.M.P. crew. He’s a little at a loss. Alexander’s dad saves the day by signing the monster slayer up for a different kind of S.S.M.P.: the Stermont Summer Maker Program. The public library boasts a summer filled with art, games, music, puppetry, brick building, chess, and, of course, a makerspace. At the library, Alexander meets librarian Ms. Sprinkles, who gives her young patrons a binder in which they can store their amazing creations. Happily, Alexander eventually finds that his friends have also decided to attend the library’s summer program, and the trio finds that their fight to keep Stermont safe from monsters is not, in fact, over. The titular baked good threatens! Fans of the previous series will enjoy this new one as well. The story is easy to follow, with large print, and the numerous grayscale illustrations are humorous, with enough cheeky puns to engage readers transitioning to chapter books. The back of the book includes questions and activities for the classroom as well as eager-reader book clubs. Alexander has dark skin and puffy dark hair, while Rip and Nikki have lighter skin; Ms. Sprinkles has dark skin and a brown Afro.

Good, clean, monstrous fun. (Paranormal adventure. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31467-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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