A whimsical odyssey featuring a playfully bizarre cast of characters.

ENCHANTED EVERGLADES

FRIEND FOR LIFE

Kowatch combines Everglades ecology, with a tale of survival, friendship, and fantasy in this debut adventure novel for middle-grade readers.

Ocean River and Ellen Hansen, both 12 years old, are inseparable friends. After the untimely death of Ellen’s father, Ocean jeopardizes his bond with her when he accidentally disrupts the funeral. The rift grows until the two find themselves stuck together on vacation with Ellen’s mother and Ocean’s parents in Everglades National Park. When their airboat crashes, the tweens awaken to find themselves on their own, and they must work together to survive. Ocean and Ellen discover that they’re in “a freakish world” where “animals did yoga and chanted with beads, where ghosts and jumbo pythons roamed, [and] where raccoons had strange hairstyles.” Their allies include a peaceful alligator who happens to be a “yogi master” and future king of the Everglades, a baby turtle, a wise wood stork, a fluffy dog, helpful pelicans, fierce dolphins, and a talkative lizard. These friends help them take on a mutant python and his children, scheming “playboy raccoons,” wily river otters, and up-to-no-good ospreys. The kids’ journey winds through exquisitely described swamp ecosystems, subtly distorted by man-made elements, such as global warming, pesticides, escaped exotic pets, and residual engine oil. The rich descriptions of wildlife ecosystems make this book worth reading by all audiences; however, the action does have a cartoonish, made-for-TV feel that makes it most suitable for middle-grade readers. The book’s moral lessons are valid but still feel pat on delivery; for example, Ocean concludes too easily that “I need to live in the present moment and forgive the past, including my mistakes and [Ellen’s].” Still, young readers will benefit from the book’s depictions of forgiveness within friendship, grief, resilience, and teamwork. (The book includes periodic black-and-white illustrations by Shinn that reflect the action of the story.)

A whimsical odyssey featuring a playfully bizarre cast of characters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73351-842-0

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Great Rays

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tropical action-filled adventure with heart.

THE EXPLORER

A crash-landing in the Amazon leaves four children stranded in the deep jungle.

They are Fred, a tall, white English boy, biracial Brazilian siblings Lila and 5-year-old Max, and a pale, white English girl, Constantia. Together they search for shelter and forage for edible fruits and larva. When Fred stumbles upon an old map, they decide to follow it to the X. In their handmade raft the crew travels down the river, through murky and clear waters, until they rediscover a lost city. Among the ruins they meet a mysterious man. He refuses to give his name, but will he refuse to help them get home? Rundell breathes character into the Amazon rain forest. The sounds, smells, flora, and fauna are vivid and tangible in the mind. The children are not as colorful, unfortunately. Fred, Lila, and Con give voice to their fears at every step, from climbing trees to facing down wild animals. Max has brief moments of wisdom in between bouts of tears or unbridled joy. The unnamed explorer does add some vibrancy to the book and commands attention despite the lush backdrop. His commentary on the effects of European imperialism is commendable although brief.

A tropical action-filled adventure with heart. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1945-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more