With the emphasis on mystery and action rather than history, à la Magic Tree House, this new chapter-book series will appeal...

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THE MYSTERIOUS MOONSTONE

From the Key Hunters series , Vol. 1

In this series opener, Cleo and Evan find themselves transported back in time to Victorian England to solve the crime of a stolen diamond.

In investigating the odd behavior of their new school librarian, Ms. Crowley, schoolmates Cleo and Evan discover a secret underground library. Lying on the table is an ornate book called The Case of the Mysterious Moonstone, with a key sticking out of its open, diarylike lock. They also find a note from their previous librarian, the beloved Ms. Hilliard, telling them, “If you have found this note, I am trapped somewhere between the covers of these enchanted books.” Opening the book, they suddenly find themselves in 19th-century London, where they realize they must help the bumbling young detective Artie Baker solve the case of a stolen diamond. Although the text has no physical descriptions of the young friends, the illustrations show Evan as black and Cleo as white. The mystery is set up much like a classic Agatha Christie (or a game of Clue): the suspects are all at the home of Col. Musgrave, and they must be questioned quickly. One of the suspects is Kumar, the bearded, turbaned butler; he speaks perfect English, but the illustration smacks of 19th-century exoticism.

With the emphasis on mystery and action rather than history, à la Magic Tree House, this new chapter-book series will appeal to junior detectives. (Mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-82205-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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