PONDFIRE

Maynard (Quiet, Wyatt!, 1999) makes fire the pivotal plot element in this short, episodic action novel. In the small village of McIntosh, Jed, the fire chief’s son, is branded a fire bug for a past transgression in which he accidentally burned down the family garage. Now, when a local swamp catches fire, he is the first to be blamed. Norm Dempsey, wannabe fire chief, is first to point the finger. Through a freak accident, Jed’s father lands in a coma in the hospital. A series of fires, a swamp fire, brush fire, barn fire, and school fire in the sports equipment room, forms a string of actions that make up the story. Toss in a few boyish pranks and some not-so-subtle clues and the story builds to its natural climax—an even bigger fire. This time, a monster train wreck sets the whole pond ablaze. Not surprisingly, Jed takes charge and steps in to rescue the day, the nursing home and surrounding houses, with a little help from his recuperating father, all in the name of saving face and proving that Norm Dempsey is behind the arsons. This fast-moving, predictable fare has some great action sequences, with appeal for mystery fans. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23439-X

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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DOLPHIN FREEDOM

Rife with adventure, this title from Grover (Dolphin Adventure, 1990, etc.) continues the story of his ongoing relationship with a special group of dolphins in Florida. When poachers from nearby Bahamas capture Baby and several other dolphins, Grover, with the assistance of friends Amos and Jack, sets out to rescue them. Their daring plan takes them to Dead Man Cay, a notorious island where they discover not only Baby and the members of his pod, but a shocking total of 14 wild dolphins penned in fetid concrete tanks, bound for amusement centers throughout Mexico. The danger to Grover and his allies is real; the poachers interrupt their escape and are clearly intent on killing them. The dolphins ultimately save their human friends. For those keeping tallies, dolphins emerge as more civilized than humans in most of this tale. Grover details the poachers’ brutal treatment of the creatures and several violent interactions between them and the rescuers, while the dolphins merely play “seamen soccer” with the villains. References to Grover’s inexplicable mental connection to the creatures, especially in times of crisis, combined with intimations that the tale may be autobiographical, will encourage readers to explore the complex lives of dolphins. The fast-paced action never overwhelms the cause—protecting the dolphins—that is so obviously dear to the author’s heart. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16010-7

Page Count: 109

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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Though the text has some amateurish didacticism, this cheerful piece has charm.

Case One: The Missing Friendship Bracelet

From the Splunkunio Splunkey Detective and Peacemaker series

Simple, appealing photographs of puppets in a house illustrate this homespun tale about a lost bracelet and a fight between friends.

Ellie Elephant, who wears embroidered jeans and a dungaree cap, is heartbroken because her friendship bracelet is lost and her best friend Eli has gone home angry. Suddenly, her phone rings and a mysterious voice proclaiming to be “a detective and a peacemaker” offers help. She agrees, blinks her eyes three times and meets Splunkunio Splunkey, a tall (compared to puppet-sized elephants), brightly colored alien. They call Eli, who’s still mad but agrees to come over and help retrace the steps that led to the disappearance of the bracelet. Splunkey takes the two elephants through their activities from earlier that day: hide-and-seek, Eli getting stuck under a bed, the bracelet’s sudden disappearance and the yelling and accusations. Of course they find the bracelet and make up, but a plot that could be stale is freshened by the enjoyable photographs and Splunkey’s quirky diction (“ ‘I need to scramdoodle ’cause I’m in a time crunch’ ”; “ ‘Then again, since this case was a piece of cake, how about giving me a piece of cake?’ ”). Each page features two vertical columns of text, one in English and one in Spanish.

Though the text has some amateurish didacticism, this cheerful piece has charm. (4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-9744812-1-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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