Proof that courage and loyalty are superpowers too…even for species that can’t emit ultrasonic blasts.

BURT THE BEETLE DOESN'T BITE!

From the Burt the Beetle series

“I’m more of a hugger,” says the eponymous six-legged guide through the world of insect powers and superpowers.

Ants can carry 50 times their weight; hawk moths emit ultrasonic blasts to confuse predatory bats; nasute termites spray paralyzing venom; and stink bugs—well, “Super gross. But also super cool.” But June beetles…can’t do those things. Nor, as Burt the 10-lined June beetle unwillingly proves, can they run fast, fly very well, or even tap dance. They do have sticky legs, for what it’s worth—which is, it turns out, quite a lot when the only way to rescue friends from a spider’s web of “sticky bum strings” is to hug the spider and hold on. “What…is…happening?” gasps the arrested arachnid, all eight legs dangling limply as a beatific Burt clasps it tight—then: “Oh, crumbs.” Following a final group clinch, a closing gallery adds even more insect facts and friends. In the wake of Fairy Science (2019), Spires here flits to a different area of STEM for another playful but informative gander at the natural world that likewise artfully stirs a light load of fact into a mix of cartoon-style illustrations and banter. Along with effortlessly absorbing the former while enjoying the latter, readers may well find it easy to embrace the wonders that the insect world presents to anyone willing to take a closer look. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Proof that courage and loyalty are superpowers too…even for species that can’t emit ultrasonic blasts. (Graphic nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0146-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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