A cozy and warmhearted adventure with some nice touches.


Three friends discover a hidden pool whose magical properties could help protect an animal habitat in this illustrated children’s book.

Fifth graders Cosmo, Leigh, and Tara pay a visit to the spooky mansion owned by Cosmo’s grandmother. There, they encounter several talking animals and discover a secret door that leads, Grandma reveals, to the tunnels of an abandoned gold and silver mine where a pool is hidden. Many years ago, a biologist invented an elixir that allows animals to speak. To protect the secret, she poured the potion into the underground waterhole, which now serves as a place for animals of all kinds to meet, talk, and solve problems such as habitat loss. The children make an adventurous journey to the hidden pool, but Leigh has trouble maneuvering his wheelchair. A glowing lady gives him a special drink that makes operating the chair effortless—he can even fly or skip over the water—allowing him to joyfully explore the crystal-lined tunnels. The kids learn that the biologist also invented a camouflage liquid that can protect endangered animals while making humans’ fears become real. The liquid is found and distributed around Grandma’s house, scaring off would-be property developers for good. In her second book featuring Leigh, McIver gives her character a way to experience mobility that celebrates rather than erases his wheelchair. This type of lovely scene is hard to find in children’s books. The fantasy of saving endangered species and habitats also has strong appeal as well as the fun of potions, talking animals, and hidden wonders. But the writing suffers from the overuse of dialogue tags (“Cosmo chuckles”; “Tara giggles”; “whines Tara”). Saunders, illustrating her latest children’s book, supplies winsome monochrome and color pictures of the White characters that convey the story’s compassion.

A cozy and warmhearted adventure with some nice touches.

Pub Date: May 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-64-841786-6

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2021

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.


After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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