Readers new to chapter books and who like to laugh often will most likely find Willy’s story peppered with just enough silly...

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WILLY MAYKIT IN SPACE

Willy Maykit is not an ordinary kid.

Although his scientist father was lost on an expedition to the Amazon, that hasn’t blunted Willy’s sense of adventure one bit. When a class field trip to Planet Ed comes up, Willy convinces his mother to put aside her worries and sign the permission slip. All goes well on the trip to the faraway planet, but Willy goes off to explore on his own, and when threatening weather leads to the hurried return of the spacecraft back to Earth, he is left behind. At first Willy believes he is the only one, but he soon discovers a green extraterrestrial named Norp along with Cindy Das (described as “the prettiest girl in class” and depicted as dark-skinned with long, dark hair; Willy is blond and fair-skinned). So the trio find themselves trying to survive attacks from huge hairy, hungry monsters (that sometimes wear sunglasses) until they are rescued. Trine keeps the outlandish plot and dialogue moving along at a speed-of-light pace. Some comic touches are employed a bit too often, such as android pilot Max’s overenthusiastic responses to a few well-known knock-knock jokes. For those still appreciative of a well-placed illustration to set the scene, Burks’ cartoon images won’t disappoint.

Readers new to chapter books and who like to laugh often will most likely find Willy’s story peppered with just enough silly humor (monster poop!) to keep the pages turning. (Adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-31351-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

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: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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