Light fare for emergent chapter-book readers who’ve exhausted the Magic Tree House series.

LET'S MOOOVE!

From the Magic on the Map series , Vol. 1

A magical camper van whisks twins Molly and Finn to a dude ranch for a mystery mission.

This first in a beginning chapter-book series blends cozy sibling adventure with a geography theme. The Planet Earth Transporter literally introduces itself to Molly and Finn as they explore the spacious van parked in their Ohio driveway. The rising third-graders, illustrated with white skin and friendly demeanors, find themselves transported to Colorado by the PET in a matter of minutes. Gentle black-and-white illustrations break up text as the pair are deposited at Snowflake Ranch until their “work is done.” The careful balance of dialogue and somewhat-advanced vocabulary throughout will build confidence among emergent readers as they see newer words paired with context clues. Normative gender roles are reinforced: Maternal Helen prepares all the food in the mess hall, Finn is physically brave and a sports fan, and Molly is timorous and book smart. When the ranch’s prize cow, Snowflake, is wrestled by “rogue cowboys” during a cattle drive, Molly, Finn, and newfound friend Ella break off from the grown-ups for a rescue operation. Ella, the lone dark-skinned character depicted, lives part-time in Colorado with her ranch-hand father and with her mother in Florida. Backmatter includes fun facts about Colorado, suggesting that each book in the series will focus on a different U.S. state.

Light fare for emergent chapter-book readers who’ve exhausted the Magic Tree House series. (Adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63565-166-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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