Training wheels for Funke’s future fans.

EMMA AND THE BLUE GENIE

Emma and her dog, Tristan, steal down to the moonlit sea for some quiet time and find a mysterious bottle bobbing on the waves; inside, of course, is a genie.

Karim can’t grant wishes; he’s the one who needs help. Evil genie Sahim stole his nose ring, source of his power, and imprisoned him in the bottle. Emma, Tristan and Karim head via flying carpet for Barakash, where Sahim now rules, to recover the nose ring and free the city’s caliph and citizens. Meyer’s whimsical art is packed with quirky details and expressive humor (the supercilious dromedary’s a delight), neatly enhancing Funke’s droll humor. First published in Germany in 2002, this entertaining tale has plenty of charm, but it will have an uncomfortable aftertaste for some. This Disney-fied Arabian Nights territory draws from the well of Western popular culture, where normal is fair and cute, exotic is dark and comically alien, and color’s a reliable indicator for good and evil. The flying carpet and palace are beautiful; the caliph’s grandmother is “a big woman with a beard and blue patterns on her face.” With tight word counts, restrictive vocabulary and language parameters, chapter books rely on their audience to fill in details from shared cultural assumptions. In an increasingly diverse society, notions of what is normal and what is exotic to readers call for frequent reassessment.

Training wheels for Funke’s future fans. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-37540-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

DANGER! TIGER CROSSING

From the Fantastic Frame series , Vol. 1

Two kids get up close and personal with some great works of art in this first in a new series.

Tiger Brooks is used to his little sister’s fantastical stories. So when the top-hatted orange pig she describes turns out to be not only real, but a next-door neighbor, Tiger enlists the help of his kooky new friend, Luna, to investigate. It turns out the pig works for the reclusive painter Viola Dots. Years ago a magical picture frame swallowed up her only son, and she’s searched for him in artworks ever since. When Tiger’s tinkering starts the magic up again, he and Luna are sucked into a reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Surprised! or Tiger in a Tropical Storm, hungry predator and all. After meeting and failing to rescue Viola’s son in this adventure, the series is set up for the intrepid pair to infiltrate other classic paintings in the future. Backmatter provides information on the real Rousseau and his life. Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy. While there are few surprises, there’s also an impressive lack of lag time. This is helped in no small part by Kallis’ art, which goes from pen-and-ink drawings to full-blown color images once the kids cross over into the painting. Tiger is a white boy, and Luna is a dark-haired Latina.

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48087-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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