Prehistoric? More like pre-hysterical.

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OONA FINDS AN EGG

From the Oodlethunks series , Vol. 1

If you think children’s books set in prehistory are all about the boys, Oona Oodlethunk’s got your number.

Meet the Oodlethunks. If the Flintstones were creatures of the early 1960s, then the Oodlethunks are their hipster millennial cousins. Mom’s an on-the-go ad exec (her latest campaign: “It’s not just a wheel”); Dad sells new recipes at the farmers market; little brother Bonk lives up to his name; and Oona just wants a pet her brother won’t be allergic to. When she finds a gigantic abandoned egg, she thinks her prayers have been answered. Maybe it’s a dud or contains a predator, but maybe it’ll hatch into Something Cute. No matter what, Oona will do anything to protect it. She’ll even conquer her greatest fear after the yet-unhatched Eggy disappears from Oona’s home in broad daylight. Adults who bristle at the questionable chronology (prehistoric rope bridges and dino encounters?) are invited to take a chill pill. After all, the plot and central mystery surrounding Eggy’s disappearance are cleverly done, and facts about the flora and fauna surrounding West Woggle, the topography of Denver (which will eventually replace West Woggle), and even the state fossil of Colorado crop up in unexpected places. Animation artist Wu’s expressive drawings neatly bring this new modern Stone Age family’s antics to life.

Prehistoric? More like pre-hysterical. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-73279-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Fantasy training wheels for chapter-book readers.

THE CREATURE OF THE PINES

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 1

Elliot’s first day of school turns out to be more than he bargained for.

Elliot Eisner—skinny and pale with curly brown hair—is a bit nervous about being the new kid. Thankfully, he hits it off with fellow new student, “punk rock”–looking Uchenna Devereaux, a black girl with twists (though they actually look like dreads in Aly’s illustrations). On a first-day field trip to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, the pair investigates a noise in the trees. The cause? A Jersey Devil: a blue-furred, red-bellied and -winged mythical creature that looks like “a tiny dragon” with cloven hooves, like a deer’s, on its hind feet. Unwittingly, the duo bonds with the creature by feeding it, and it later follows them back to the bus. Unsurprisingly, they lose the creature (which they alternately nickname Jersey and Bonechewer), which forces them to go to their intimidating, decidedly odd teacher, Peruvian Professor Fauna, for help in recovering it. The book closes with Professor Fauna revealing the truth—he heads a secret organization committed to protecting mythical creatures—and inviting the children to join, a neat setup for what is obviously intended to be a series. The predictable plot is geared to newly independent readers who are not yet ready for the usual heft of contemporary fantasies. A brief history lesson given by a mixed-race associate of Fauna’s in which she compares herself to the American “melting pot” manages to come across as simultaneously corrective and appropriative.

Fantasy training wheels for chapter-book readers. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3170-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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THE STONE OF FIRE

From the Cavemice series , Vol. 1

Warp back in time for a prehistoric spinoff adventure with Geronimo Stilton’s ancestor, Geronimo Stiltonoot, in Old Mouse City.

Readers will find Geronimo Stiltonoot a familiar character, outfitted differently from descendant Stilton yet still running a newspaper and having wild adventures. In this introduction to prehistoric mouse life, someone has stolen the most powerful and important artifact housed by the Old Mouse City Mouseum: the Stone of Fire. It’s up to Stiltonoot and his fellow sleuth and friend, Hercule Poirat, to uncover not only the theft, but a dangerous plot that jeopardizes all of Old Mouse City. As stand-ins for the rest of the Stilton cast, Stiltonoot has in common with Stilton a cousin named Trap, a sister named Thea and a nephew named Benjamin. The slapstick comedy and design, busy with type changes and color, will be familiar for Stilton readers. The world is fictionalized for comedic effect, featuring funny uses for dinosaurs and cheeky references to how far back in time they are, with only the occasional sidebar that presents facts. The story takes a bit long to get started, spending a lot of time reiterating the worldbuilding information laid out before the first chapter. But once it does start, it is an adventure Stilton readers will enjoy. Geronimo Stiltonoot has the right combination of familiarity and newness to satisfy Stilton fans. (Fiction. 6-10)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-44774-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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