A joyful, well-told story that celebrates the power of imagination.

MELODY'S MAGICAL FLYING MACHINE

A fourth grade girl creates a magical flying machine with the help of an enchanted bird in this children’s book.

Melody, 10, loves hugs, daydreaming, singing, and storytelling. She also has Down syndrome; as she explains, “I can do almost everything other children can do, and I’m happy.” But she’s not so happy after being bullied by Robert, a new boy at school who mocks her storytelling and short stature. To feel better, Melody sits beneath her favorite daydreaming tree, where a tall creature with gray metal feathers introduces herself as “JuJu the Enchanted Bird.” JuJu helps Melody design and create a wonderful flying machine that looks like a giant snail shell powered by two dragons. At school, she swoops around in her machine, proclaiming: “I am Melody the tall and brave warrior.” Later on, Melody tells tales of adventure and magic to her enthralled classmates. Finally, even Robert comes around, saying: “I want you to know I like your stories. I’m sorry I was mean to you.” Though Melody is sad when JuJu must go, her friend reminds the girl of her strengths. In the end, Melody says, “I felt good about who I was and what I could do. I was a brave storyteller.” Melody is an engaging narrator whose cheerful affection, knack for happiness, and zestful imagination express themselves in every line. This extends even to her clothes; every outfit she wears is, in some way, her favorite. She appreciates others, delighting in her little brother’s silly knock-knock jokes. Whether or not readers have Down syndrome, most will relate to Melody’s sadness at social exclusion and benefit from the creative, self-affirming response that she demonstrates. Zina’s pencil illustrations are beautifully textured and shaded, with a magical quality that deftly matches the text.

A joyful, well-told story that celebrates the power of imagination.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61254-470-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2020

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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