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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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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