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From the Awesome Animals series

An associated website and club extend the goofy fun.

Meerkat adventures in the Kalahari Desert.

Uncle Fearless used to be the king of the Sharpeyes, but after an unfortunate run-in with an eagle owl, the Silent Enemy, he was demoted to baby sitter. His three charges, Mimi, Little Dream and Skeema, are ready for their first visit Upworld. They’ve been raised on tales of Uncle Fearless’ adventures during his Glory Days, when he was among the Blah-blah Tribes (humans): tales of the Ooolooks, the Whevubins and the Click-clicks, not to mention their huge, scary Vroom-vrooms. When Fearless and the young ones venture up, the young trio find the rest of the Sharpeyes don’t think much of Fearless. So when they find a pink, elephant-shaped case full of Blah-blah artifacts, they decide to cross the desert to return it. Will they survive Vroom-vrooms, the return of the Silent Enemy and bands of hostile meerkats to find the pointed anthills of the Blah-blahs? Britain’s Awesome Animals series penned by several stars of British children’s literature comes to America. Each author creates adventures starring a different species; publishing simultaneously are Jeanne Willis’ Penguin Pandemonium, Jamie Rix’s Panda Panic and Andrew Cope’s Raccoon Rampage. Prolific funnyman Whybrow’s first of four (so far) meerkat adventures is a goofy mix of misunderstandings and mayhem with black-and-white spot illustrations by Hearn that add to the fun.

An associated website and club extend the goofy fun. (Humor. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4380-0303-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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