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From the Adventures of Trim series

More seaworthy fun with this endearing feline hero.

Trim Helps Out (2023) gave the seafaring kitten a chance for (accidental) heroism, but he still wants a steady role on the ship.

This third book in the series finds Trim again at sea with Captain Flinders (based on British explorer Matthew Flinders, who sailed around Australia with his own cat). The ever helpful feline wants to lend a hand. But his well-meaning attempts exasperate his fellow animals, as well as the cook, the artist, the gardener, and even the captain. Trim paws the biscuit dough, knocks over the flower that the ship’s artist is sketching, and scatters the gardener’s dirt. And his relentless mewing annoys the ship’s dog, Penny. Even Princess Bea the rat, napping in the hold, finds Trim’s mews irritating. But when a discouraged Trim goes off to bathe himself—quietly—he becomes surprisingly awash: A huge water cask has sprung a leak. Now Trim discovers that his screechy cries can be an unexpected asset: Ear-splitting YOWLS bring “all hands on deck.” Trim realizes that purring is his steady job, but yowls are good for an emergency. Cartoon-style line and color illustrations faithfully depict a 19th-century ship and a cat’s hilarious antics. Adorable Trim makes a winning, relatable protagonist as he attempts to find a place for himself on the ship. Human faces are generally not depicted, though Captain Flinders is light-skinned, and the artist is brown-skinned.

More seaworthy fun with this endearing feline hero. (historical note) (Early chapter book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781682632932

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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