A sweet, light fantasy for readers just cutting their literary teeth.


Ruffleclaw, an “earth monster,” is obsessed with human things—which will cause some problems.

Ruffleclaw’s tired of living under a shed and eating only bugs. He’s also tired of his earth monster neighbors, Shaggystink and Wormtooth, and their disdain for all things human. At night, Ruffleclaw picks the locks of human houses (easy with a claw) and gapes at all the wonders within. He’s especially fond of the “ice-cold box” where they keep the best food. He decides to go live with a human family, choosing a house where he’s heard the most delightful, “creepy-crawlicious” music. When Tommy wakes next to a hairy, red, four-armed, smelly monster, he tries throwing Ruffleclaw out, but the earth monster is nothing if not persistent. Tommy decides to keep Ruffleclaw as a pet—after all, he’s always wanted a dog, and the monster actually talks. When keeping the hairy beast a secret from mom falls through, the duo have to get creative convincing her to let Ruffleclaw stay…and then there’s Tommy’s dad’s allergy to anything with fur. Funke’s playful monster tale, published in Germany in 2005, is a piece with such other outings as Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). While it’s not as inventive or engaging as her longer works, those new to chapters who need a good, funny monster tale to alleviate fears or who like a small dose of gross will find it here.

A sweet, light fantasy for readers just cutting their literary teeth. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37548-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...


Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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