THE SNOW BEAR

From the Winter Journeys series

After hearing her grandfather’s stories of finding a polar bear cub while living with an Inuit family in the Canadian Arctic, a little girl dreams her own wintry adventure.

Sara’s parents have skipped the family’s annual Christmastime visit to Grandpa this year, staying at home as they await the birth of her baby brother and sending her alone. Sara loves visiting Grandpa but misses her parents, especially now that a major snowfall threatens to keep them isolated up north over the holiday. Grandpa, writing a book on Inuit folktales, entertains her with accounts of his own childhood, when he accompanied his father—then studying the Inuit people—to the Canadian Arctic, where Grandpa and Alignak, an Inuit boy, rescued a polar bear cub. Sara builds a snow bear and coaxes Grandpa into building a small igloo, where she snuggles into a sleeping bag and, listening to more stories, dreams. Originally published in 2012, the story—especially in its generic portrait of Inuit culture—feels stale, the characters bland. As recollected in Grandpa’s childhood memories and Sara’s dream, the Inuit are familiar, pre-industrial tropes—exotic sources of folktales and artifacts. (An endnote oddly describes Nunavut, Canada’s vast Inuit territory, as a “settlement.”) Vacillating between realism and fantasy, the plot never kicks into gear. Sara and Grandpa present white. Homey illustrations add warmth to an otherwise chilly read.

Trite and plodding. (author’s notes) (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-446-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

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 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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