An uneven effort; still, youngsters not ready for Harry Potter will find comfort here.

ODDFELLOW'S ORPHANAGE

An undeniably charming story about the characters, albeit one-dimensional, who form a family at Oddfellow’s Orphanage.

Headmaster Oddfellow Bluebeard, tame relation to the infamous Bluebeard, and Professor Stella dash off at night to rescue Delia. By morning, they have brought her back to Oddfellow’s Orphanage, haven to peculiar children orphaned by events natural, unexplained or, in two cases, jarringly violent. Here, bears dance, cooks serve hot chocolate and staff call their charges “dear.” The residents include Delia, who does not speak (readers never find out exactly why), tattooed Imogen, Hugo the hedgehog boy, “onion-headed” Ollie and several others, some of whom do not merit more than a mention. In her debut, Martin relies on third-person narration and uses adjectives such as “cozy,” “twinkling” and “pretty” to set a scene of happy companionship. Although somewhat reminiscent of Hogwarts, with classes such as cryptozoology (“the study of mysterious and possibly imagined animals”) and F.T. (“fairy tales and folktales”) Studies, readers will find no bullies or evil at Oddfellow’s. The rare time that one child misbehaves, all is forgiven. Small, safe adventures take place between March and New Year’s, when a new babe appears on the doorstep. Pencil drawings appear throughout (final art not seen), adding to the feeling of warmth.

An uneven effort; still, youngsters not ready for Harry Potter will find comfort here.   (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86995-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.

MEET THE BIGFEET

From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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