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From the Key Hunters series , Vol. 1

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

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. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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