8 CLASS PETS + 1 SQUIRREL ÷ 1 DOG = CHAOS

When Twitch, the schoolyard squirrel, gets into the school, all sorts of craziness ensues.

Told in the voices of classroom pets in various rooms, this fast-paced romp imagines a day in which the squirrel, pursued by an enthusiastic dog (owned by the principal, naturally), wreaks havoc in an elementary school. As Twitch races from room to room, the animals attempt to help him escape his tormentor. Running, in order, from first grade to fifth grade as well as to the library, art and science rooms, the animals leave a heap of damage in their wake. Traditional classroom pets (hamster, rabbit, rat, tetras, parrot, turtle, snake, geckos) narrate the action from their points of view. The action is predictably frenetic, but the changes in voice from chapter to chapter provide a refreshing and humorous diversion from most chapter-book fare. Each animal has a distinctive style of speech, which helps the reader keep everyone clear. Galileo and Newton, the two geckos, with their scripted dialogue, and the school of fish, chanting together, “We are in a school. We are in a school in a school,” are particularly effective.  Occasional pen-and-ink spot illustrations add energy to an already high-octane story.

A whole lot of fun. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2364-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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