The underwater setting adds some dimension to straightforward friendship stories.

TROUBLE AT TRIDENT ACADEMY

From the Mermaid Tales series , Vol. 1

Prolific Dadey's (Keyholders: The Wrong Side of Magic, 2010, etc.) latest series follows young mermaids through turbulent friendships.

Eight-year-old best friends Shelly and Echo are overjoyed to be starting school at the prestigious Trident Academy at the same time. Rambunctious and good-natured, together they cause mild trouble, especially in trying to find a way to make grumpy Mr. Fangtooth crack a smile. Their friendship wobbles when they disagree over whether to ask Shelly's grandfather for help on a school project or not. The minor tiff leads to Echo's sudden friendship with Pearl, a rich snob who dislikes Shelly most of all. Echo and Shelly miss each other, though, and restore their friendship while reaching out to another mermaid who is new to the area and has made friends. While Echo and Shelly are not particularly distinctive, and Pearl and the archetypal token boy, Rocky, are cartoony, the characters' interactions are funny and believable. The friendship-driven conflicts continue in Battle of the Best Friends (publishing simultaneously). In Battle, Pearl books a top under-the-sea band to perform and invites Echo but not Shelly; the end again reinforces the importance of inclusiveness and rewards those who are nice.

The underwater setting adds some dimension to straightforward friendship stories. (class reports written by each character, song lyrics, author's note, glossary) (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4978-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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