CROCODILES, CAMELS, AND DUGOUT CANOES

EIGHT ADVENTUROUS EPISODES

Treacherous terrain and hostile environments were everyday fare for the 19th-century and early 20th-century global explorer-adventurers the husband-and-wife author and illustrator present in these pages. Life and limb were always at stake, but these gutsy, persevering men and women—among them Charles Waterton, Richard Burton, and Mary Kingsley—overcame fear, danger, and almost insurmountable obstacles to answer the call. August AndrÇe set out to be the first to travel across the North Pole in a balloon, Ernest Shackleford wanted to be the first to make an overland crossing of the Antarctic, and Annie Smith Peck was the third woman to climb the Matterhorn (and the first to make the climb in pants). Others, in the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, traveled “for travel’s sake”: Dervla Murphy wanted to see the world, while Antoine de Saint-ExupÇry wished to quench the “thirst to fly.” Running from three to five pages each, the vignettes offer snapshot-sized, near-death moments from the adventurers’ travels, then backpedal to include childhood events and other background. The same detailed pen-and-ink drawings that skillfully reveal perspectives in Munro’s Inside Outside books deftly capture the travels of these hardy souls, from the Arctic to the Sahara. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-525-45858-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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