An entertaining story with sly humor and an old-fashioned vibe.

LILLY AND FIN

A MERMAID'S TALE

Wealthy, odious collectors of marine life pursue the last creature needed to complete their collection—a “genuine rainbow-scaled, green-skinned, fluorescent mermaid.”

This latest translated chapter book from Funke (Ruffleclaw, 2015, etc.) opens with a pair of Roald Dahl–type villains, Mr. and Mrs. Snorkel. Owners of many businesses, they devote their wealth to obtaining all sorts of sea creatures for their not-quite-so-well–tended collection. They’ve invested enough in their hobby to have their own “lightning-fast submarine” and to hire multiple underwater detectives to try to find them an elusive mermaid. Finally, the most famous of these underwater detectives succeeds, locating a secret underwater mermaid city. Meanwhile, at the city, adventurous young merpups like titular Lilly and Fin ignore warnings about the Two-Legs to explore and play beyond its borders, making them vulnerable to the Snorkels’ minion. Sure enough, they manage to nab Fin. Lilly escapes through a dark crevice only to find the other cautionary tale she didn’t really believe in—the kraken. The kraken is friendly, lonely, and playful—though his manners aren’t exactly on point—and moreover is willing to help his new friend rescue Fin. The green-skinned merpups find the white villains pretty disgusting (the kraken deems dark-skinned Two-Legs somewhat less repulsive). The illustrations provide scale—and scales—enhancing the straightforward story.

An entertaining story with sly humor and an old-fashioned vibe. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0101-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises.

THE SUPER-SPOOKY FRIGHT NIGHT!

From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 1

Shades of Bewitched, the old TV show featuring a witch married to a regular guy.

This new chapter-book series stars Pandora, a white girl with two grandmas—the good witch, Granny Crow, in a patterned minidress, whose magical powers enliven any party or school outing, and Granny Podmore, in her cardigan and plaid skirt, a kind but stereotypical grandmother who cleans and cooks. Pandora’s friends include Nellie, a black girl, and Nellie’s mom is also depicted as black in the exuberant line drawings with gray washes. The three chapterlong adventures are rather tame, meant for readers who want fun rather than fright. In “The Super-Spooky Fright Night!” (all titles have exclamation points), the two grandmothers host a Halloween party. Granny Crow creates “bat-shaped cookies that hung around the bowls, and a custard cat (that actually meowed!).” Granny Podmore makes “the neatest swans” from napkins. Granny Crow conjures up musical broomsticks when Granny Podmore wants to introduce musical chairs. The evening ends happily when Granny Podmore uses Ollie, her vacuum cleaner, to suck up little pumpkins from Granny Crow’s pumpkin pop gone wild. Only Granny Crow appears in the other stories, making teddy bears come alive to give a “teddy bears’ picnic!” and causing a nasty teacher to accidentally cast a spell that turns a school swimming lesson into utter chaos.

Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8653-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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