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

READ REVIEW

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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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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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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