Colossal’s debut outing is a cheerful if unexceptional popcorn read.

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RUTABAGA THE ADVENTURE CHEF

From the Rutabaga the Adventure Chief series , Vol. 1

In a land with dragons and other monsters, a happy-go-lucky chef can also be a hero.

Rutabaga is a chef on a journey to find the rarest, tastiest ingredients to use in his cooking. He’s a foodie Indiana Jones for the junior set: When he finds a legendary sword, he wants only the mushrooms growing on it, happily surrendering the sword itself to the next person who arrives. Though Rutabaga isn’t a warrior or wizard, his culinary expertise often comes in handy; for example, he’s able to deduce what food might nourish an ailing royal pet. Colossal’s full-color, cartoonish illustrations, with their heavy linework and simple figures, match the light, goofy tone of the stories. When Rutabaga gets cooking, Colossal exploits the graphic form to break down the action into numbered steps reminiscent of real cookbooks. The slapstick humor entertains but leaves little space for genuine character development, and the characters’ determinedly colloquial speech highlights the flimsiness of the faux medieval setting. Recipes scattered throughout allow kids to test their own cooking skills, at least on the ones with real-world ingredients. (Taste testers should be warned that one recipe features crushed cinnamon breath mints as an ingredient.)

Colossal’s debut outing is a cheerful if unexceptional popcorn read. (Graphic adventure. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1380-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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