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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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