An easy ecological primer for young readers couched in a fanciful adventure tale.


In this illustrated children’s book, a girl’s fantastic outing with Mother Earth teaches her important lessons about ecology and humans’ stewardship of nature.

Young Vana loves to visit her grandmother’s farm, where she can run free in the countryside, eat delicious fresh food, and play with the chickens, cows, and her grandma’s lively beagle, Elvin. Each time she visits, her grandparent gives her fresh-baked pies, homemade jam, and a new journal in which to draw and write. During one of the youngster’s visits, she falls asleep under an apple tree, and she’s awakened by a beautiful woman who introduces herself as Gaia (aka Mother Earth). Gaia takes Vana on a magical tour of her earthly domain, gently explaining the purposes of the trees, bees, birds, and even the rain, which Vana “hates” for dampening her play until she learns how important it is for sustaining life. Through it all, Gaia expresses her love for her creations as well as her disappointment that she “cannot change the bad habits of animals—or especially humans.” She wishes that people “could be more humble and less selfish in [their] relationship with me and all of my other children,” and she charges Vana to use her special talents for drawing and writing to share what she’s learned. Petrović’s narrative is both ambitious and concise in its attempt to illustrate Gaia’s ultimate lesson that “We are all one.” The prose is simple and understandable but never condescends to its young audience. She manages to convey Vana’s sense of wonder while also retaining a child’s perspective, as when Vana unthinkingly calls a mole “ugly” only to regret her rudeness as she discovers the unique purposes of each element of nature. Anthropomorphism abounds, and sexism and ageism make a jarring appearance when Gaia tells Vana that a giant redwood “won’t admit exactly how old she is—she is after all a lady.” Overall, though, the narrative provides a gentle explanation of the human impact on nature, from pesticides to global warming.

An easy ecological primer for young readers couched in a fanciful adventure tale.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 89

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2022

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Dizzyingly silly.


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.


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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