A typical tough-class story is enlivened with dinosaurs but marred by stereotypes and missing information.


From the Class X series , Vol. 1

The students of class 4X have a reputation for being rowdy and unteachable—hence their nickname, class X—but maybe their newest sub has just the grit they need.

When 4X drives yet another teacher away with their antics, Mrs. Ogg is sent in to teach this difficult class. Mrs. Ogg isn’t like other teachers 4X has met—her guttural, monosyllabic way of communicating and her fur and bone outfits make the parents and students wonder where she came from. With the end-of-the-year party on the line, the 4X crew have just one more chance to prove that they can stay out of trouble, during a field trip to the zoo. It’s quickly revealed that this is not a typical zoo visit, however, when the class encounters prehistoric creatures! Class statistics, dinosaur facts, and cute illustrations are sprinkled into the text in the form of excerpts from Arlo’s meticulously kept notebook. There are no sources cited for the dinosaur trivia in the book, which may leave readers wondering about the information and where they can learn more. The students and other characters are described and drawn with a wide range of skin tones, from light pink to dark brown, and they also include a student who is learning English and a student who is largely nonverbal. Protagonist Arlo is white and has a stutter. Troublingly, the two black students in the book are described in stereotypical ways.

A typical tough-class story is enlivened with dinosaurs but marred by stereotypes and missing information. (author interview) (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84886-468-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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


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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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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