An addition to a series that verges on the charming for readers who can ignore a bump or two along the way.



From the Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet series , Vol. 3

Hoo hoo who knows what to do when an owl needs some aid? Calling Callie Tate, stat!

October 1901 sees budding veterinarian/naturalist Calpurnia Tate and her grandfather floating in a leaky rowboat (christened the Beagle) down the San Marcos River. Along the way they run across a most unusual creature: a drowning owl. Baffled by the bird’s condition, they decide to keep it on hand until they can ascertain its problem. Skillful observations on Callie’s part help to determine the owl’s ailment (illness by way of a poisoned mouse) and lead to an effective cure. In this latest in an early chapter-book series (Counting Sheep, 2017, etc.) that continues the story begun in series for older readers (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, 2009, etc.), Callie is a welcome guide to not only animal facts and lore, but also the mores and restrictions of early-20th-century life for women. Callie’s description of “the bloodthirsty Comanche” who left arrowheads behind is tonally out of sync with her noting that they “had hunted here for centuries before being driven onto the reservation in the Oklahoma Territory”; that “bloodthirsty” feels unnecessary at best.

An addition to a series that verges on the charming for readers who can ignore a bump or two along the way. (Historical fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-873-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Fantasy training wheels for chapter-book readers.


From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 1

Elliot’s first day of school turns out to be more than he bargained for.

Elliot Eisner—skinny and pale with curly brown hair—is a bit nervous about being the new kid. Thankfully, he hits it off with fellow new student, “punk rock”–looking Uchenna Devereaux, a black girl with twists (though they actually look like dreads in Aly’s illustrations). On a first-day field trip to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, the pair investigates a noise in the trees. The cause? A Jersey Devil: a blue-furred, red-bellied and -winged mythical creature that looks like “a tiny dragon” with cloven hooves, like a deer’s, on its hind feet. Unwittingly, the duo bonds with the creature by feeding it, and it later follows them back to the bus. Unsurprisingly, they lose the creature (which they alternately nickname Jersey and Bonechewer), which forces them to go to their intimidating, decidedly odd teacher, Peruvian Professor Fauna, for help in recovering it. The book closes with Professor Fauna revealing the truth—he heads a secret organization committed to protecting mythical creatures—and inviting the children to join, a neat setup for what is obviously intended to be a series. The predictable plot is geared to newly independent readers who are not yet ready for the usual heft of contemporary fantasies. A brief history lesson given by a mixed-race associate of Fauna’s in which she compares herself to the American “melting pot” manages to come across as simultaneously corrective and appropriative.

Fantasy training wheels for chapter-book readers. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3170-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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