A rousing, feel-good animal story of courage and compassion—a winner.

A Raccoon's Tale

SEVEN SAVES THE NOTCH

After her home is destroyed, a raccoon embarks on a dangerous journey to find the safe haven foretold in legend in this illustrated children’s book.

Seven-Rings Moon, called Seven for short, is a young raccoon who lives happily with her mother and siblings in an old, abandoned church. One day, though, a big yellow machine comes to tear down the building, and Seven and her sister, Arnica, barely manage to escape. When they stop running, their mother and brother are nowhere to be found. They find their grandfather Greyson, who relates a legend: “In a month in which there is a copper-colored moon, a raccoon with seven black rings on its tail will be born”—just like Seven. Greyson tells her she must travel to a “safe place for the creatures of the woods and the birds of the air” called the Notch. “It’s your destiny,” he says. “You’re not only meant to go there, Seven. You’re also meant to save it, to stop those who would destroy it.” Seven doubts that a little raccoon like her can do anything, but Greyson assures her that she can and must. An odyssey filled with many adventures and perils ensues, giving Seven a chance to sharpen her wits by concocting clever schemes. She also gains allies who know of and support her quest, such as a bobcat, a Newfoundland dog, and a pair of voluble gray squirrels. Working together, they can perhaps find a way to defeat the men and their machines that threaten the Notch. Hodgkins (Little Loon, 2015, etc.) offers an exciting, well-written tale that’s especially moving for its vision of a peaceable kingdom in which predators and prey cooperate against the real enemy: habitat loss and human greed. Another plus is that the author’s animal characters act (more or less) like animals rather than being disguised human beings. There are echoes of Richard Adams’ Watership Down in the creatures’ stories and in an authoritarian raccoon community that’s a mild version of Efrafra, but Hodgkins makes this tale her own. Though the environmental message is clear, the book isn’t preachy (it’s often very funny) and shows how some humans do care about and work for animals.

A rousing, feel-good animal story of courage and compassion—a winner.

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9908706-3-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Brattle Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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