Transitioning independent readers looking for a funny, fast read need look no further.

READ REVIEW

HOTDOG!

From the Hotdog series , Vol. 1

Three animal friends help a bird find its missing mama.

With a long body and short legs, dachshund Hotdog awakes one morning to find he has a stuffy nose. Undaunted by his olfactory obstacle, he ventures out to meet friends Lizzie the lizard, who can “blend in with almost everything,” and Kevin, a corpulent cat whose owners like to dress him in costume (his disguise du jour is a cow). The trio happens upon an adorable baby bird fallen from its nest and decides to help it find its mother by crossing a river, visiting a farm, and flying a kite. Reading like an updated version of P.D. Eastman’s beloved Are You My Mother, the tale sets the animals to asking every bird they encounter (a duck, a rooster, and a penguin) if they are indeed the bird’s mother, eliciting giggles from readers who surely know they are not. Do’s short chapters and bouncy prose play with type size and color, easing recent graduates of the Eastman classic into independent reading, and McGuiness’ cheerfully silly caricatures feel comfortably familiar. The plot is familiar too—it falls to Hotdog to save the day, buoyed by cohorts who play into the comedy—giving transitioning readers a comfortable scaffold. This is the first in a proposed series; sequel Party Time! publishes simultaneously.

Transitioning independent readers looking for a funny, fast read need look no further. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-58720-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Young environmentalists will appreciate seeing how facts can defy frenzy.

COUGAR FRENZY

From the Orca Echoes series

Through the investigations of young Cricket and her friends, readers learn how to distinguish evidence of a cougar from other animals—and are briefed on cougar conservation and monitoring.

When Cricket and her friend Shilo notice a foul smell coming from piled-up snow and branches under a bush, Cricket suspects that a cougar has hidden its dinner. Her father, Warden McKay, proves her right when he shows up at her school, giving an emergency presentation about cougars. A cougar has been seen in their village, which is located inside Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. After Cricket’s dad informs kids about some cougar facts, Principal Singh gives students a rare week off from school. It’s odd, then, that the warden’s children proceed to wander the village. However, McDowell’s books about Cricket typically favor facts about wildlife above all else, and, also typically, this one does not disappoint. It even clarifies one statistic as specifically Canadian. Overall, the dialogue is more natural than in Salamander Rescue (2016), if equally packed with information. The nine chapters and epilogue are accessible, entertaining, and empowering for young naturalists. The compelling plot twist: Anxious villagers are accusing cougars of a series of large-mammal crimes. Cricket, knowing that cougar relocation can be fatal, wants to ensure continued, occasional village visits by a family of tracked cougars. She devises a scheme to trap the real culprit. Illustrations are pleasant enough, depicting a largely white cast, though at least three characters have Asian surnames.

Young environmentalists will appreciate seeing how facts can defy frenzy. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2064-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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