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A fun friendship story for young readers fond of brave exploits, helicopters, comics, or any combination thereof.

No wildfire stands a chance when Roy Thunder and his helicopter, Roto, take to the skies.

Firefighting pilot Roy, whose race is ambiguous, is a superhero in every way. One morning, after a lightning strike sparks a wildfire in a canyon, Roy and Roto—who is anthropomorphic with green eyes—set off together to fight the blaze. Their strenuous mission involves using a hose to draw up water from a lake and flying for hours “through the high winds, smoke, and heat.” Although it takes filling Roto’s tank with water 10 times to put out the conflagration, the heroes prevail. However, just when all seems safe, they spot a petrified puppy precariously close to a cliff’s edge. In a daring air rescue, Roto hovers and Roy rappels to the ground to reach the forlorn animal. Job complete, the pair head back to Hangar One, where they receive a true hero's welcome. This engaging, rhyming picture book looks and feels like a large comic book. The cartoonlike illustrations are action-packed and divided into panels on several spreads. Like classic superhero comics, there is plenty of onomatopoeia, inviting audience participation. During the air rescue scene, the layout changes to horizontal orientation twice, a move that will surprise and delight readers. When read aloud, the book does feel a bit long.

A fun friendship story for young readers fond of brave exploits, helicopters, comics, or any combination thereof. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-53496-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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