Fast-moving quest fantasy with cool vocabulary and a quickly written vibe.

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FIRE OVER SWALLOWHAVEN

From the Six Crowns series , Vol. 3

Fighting pirates and waking a phoenix in a volcano are the two primary events in this third installment of a six-part outer-space animal-steampunk adventure.

Hedgehogs Trundle and Esmeralda, with their pal Jack the troubadour squirrel, are bashing around outer space, hunting down six crowns of power. The pirates finally catch up with them, and there’s a swashbuckling battle with various weaponry and explosions. As ever, Jones breezily whips up his own steampunk-flavored natural laws and workings (skyboats are wind-powered, and when wind is low, treadles and propellers do the trick; outer space has dawn, dusk and the objective directions “upward” and “downward”). These are leavened with a touch of classic fantasy science (a “powerstone” keeps each vessel afloat). A long farting scene and a sulfur, treacle and brimstone potion will delight fans of all things stinky. Action moves swiftly, and language is blusterously playful (“Kill ’em to death, y’ swabs!”). Readers who enjoy predictable plots and procedure—one crown per book—will be well satisfied. Others will chafe at the slapdash rhymes that resist scansion (“This clue you have found in the phoenix bird’s fire. / You must seek for the Crown of Ice in the land of Spyre!”). Old age, scars, mental illness and ethnicity (Esmeralda is “Roamany”) get cheap stereotyping.

Fast-moving quest fantasy with cool vocabulary and a quickly written vibe. (Animal steampunk. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-200629-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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