The simplistic mysteries and silly jokes are in line with other series outings, “special edition” status notwithstanding.

THE HUNT FOR THE HUNDREDTH KEY

From the Geronimo Stilton series

Geronimo Stilton teams up with his sister, Thea, and cousin Trap to solve the mystery of a long-lost castle recently rediscovered in spooky woods.

Right after his grandfather wakes him to demand that Geronimo write a special new book for the students of New Mouse City Elementary School to celebrate their 100th day of school, Thea and Trap have a bigger surprise for Geronimo. Their city’s founder, Grant Gentlemouse, was rumored to have built a secret castle for his mystery bride, and now Thea’s found it, surrounded by a giant hedge of thorny, white roses. She and Trap want to film a television special on it, but they need an assistant to carry equipment and bankroll it, so they call Geronimo. They explore the creepy castle, with Trap pranking scaredy-mouse Geronimo, and discover the mystery bride to be yet another scrivening Stilton, Rose. The rose theme and creepy setting work well in illustrations, especially full-page spreads with art or games, though the series’ trademark design flourish of printing words and phrases in colorful display type within the narrative jars the reading rhythm. Following this book, there’s a bonus story almost as long in which Geronimo wins a cruise trip. There’s a thief on board, and some things seem odd with the beautiful mouse flirting with him. The last feature is a few pages of jokes as delightfully cheesy as ought to be expected from a mouse named Stilton.

The simplistic mysteries and silly jokes are in line with other series outings, “special edition” status notwithstanding. (Graphic adventure. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-08778-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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