From the Legends of Lotus Island series , Vol. 2

A fun, magical journey featuring a relatably conflicted protagonist.

A group of young Novices at a magic school learn more about using their powers to protect the land.

Plum has passed the first test necessary to remain at the Guardian Academy and now is a true Novice, training to use her magic in service of the Santipap Islands. Like her classmates, Plum has the ability to shape-shift into a fantastic creature, the mark of a Guardian. But unlike her classmates, Plum does not seem to have a Guardian power, at least not one that makes sense. Plum worries that she may be like another one of her classmates who had to leave the academy because she used unauthorized workarounds to pass a test. And Plum’s next test is fast approaching: She and a few of her friends must journey to another island in the archipelago to use their magic in the field. Something is threatening the trees on Bokati Island, and Plum and her friends must help—but will Plum be able to use her magic and live up to being a Guardian? Touching on friendship, confidence, environmentalism, belonging, and the notion that sometimes actions aren’t black-and-white, this second installment of the Legends of Lotus Island series sheds more light on Plum’s mysterious powers but still hints at more to come. Plum and her friends live in a loose fantasy version of Thailand.

A fun, magical journey featuring a relatably conflicted protagonist. (map) (Fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: July 18, 2023

ISBN: 9781338759174

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023


From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016


A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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