Just the ticket for chapter-book readers in need of some giggles.

READ REVIEW

THE CAVE OF AAAAAH! DOOM!

From the Ella and Owen series , Vol. 1

Dragon siblings Ella and Owen have a wacky adventure.

Energetic Ella’s tired of Owen staying in bed with his cold (and the germs and fire sneezes that come with it). Bookworm Owen’s more than happy to stay put reading fairy tales about dragons defeating knights in shining armor. Ella bribes Owen out of bed with the chance to obtain more ogre toenails for his collection, and off they go to find the wizard Orlock Morlock to cure Owen’s cold. (What Owen doesn’t know is that Ella fibbed, telling him that their destination’s the Cave of Caves instead of the aptly named Cave of Aaaaah! Doom!) After escaping a dragon-eating ogre, they reach the cave, where a winged Wicked Wizard Waffle terrifies them. Driving it away, they then learn that Orlock Morlock is an evil vegetable (literally) wizard rather than a dragon wizard. They end up helping him, negotiating for their freedom, Owen’s cure, and his agreement to restrict his evilness to Mondays (and evil holidays). Then they set off for home and one last twist—they’re lost again. The simultaneously publishing sequel, Attack of the Stinky Fish Monster!, starts up right at that cliffhanger to quickly resolve it and launches into the siblings’ misfortunes while trying to bake their mother a birthday cake. While the emphasis is clearly on maximum silliness, Kent’s depiction of the siblings’ relationship will ring true to many readers.

Just the ticket for chapter-book readers in need of some giggles. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0393-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones.

BOA CONSTRUCTOR

From the The Binder of Doom series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of the Binder of Doom series, readers will reconnect with Alexander Bopp, who leads the Super Secret Monster Patrol, a group of mutant children who protect the citizens of their beloved town of Stermont.

His friends Nikki and Rip rejoin him to add new monsters and adventures to their ever growing binder of monsters. As in series opener Brute-Cake (2019), Alexander and his friends attend the local library’s summer program, this time for “maker-camp.” They are assigned a Maker Challenge, in which each camper is to “make a machine that performs a helpful task”; meanwhile, mechanical equipment is being stolen all over Stermont. Unfortunately, the pacing and focus of the book hop all over the place. The titular boa constructor (a two-headed maker-minded snake and the culprit behind the thefts) is but one of many monsters introduced here, appearing more than two-thirds of the way through the story—just after the Machine Share-Time concludes the maker-camp plotline. (Rip’s “most dangerous” invention does come in handy at the climax.) The grayscale illustrations add visuals that will keep early readers engaged despite the erratic storyline; they depict Alexander with dark skin and puffy hair and Nikki and Rip with light skin. Monster trading cards are interleaved with the story.

Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones. (Paranormal adventure. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31469-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to...

THE BOOK OF GOLD

A lifelong quest slowly transforms a stolidly incurious Brooklyn lad into an educated, well-traveled geezer.

A dedicated nonreader, young Isaac Gutenberg turns up his nose at the tantalizing facts his book-loving parents dangle before him until a mysterious little old lady tells him about a legendary volume that not only contains the answers to every question ever asked, but when opened “turns to solid gold.” As years pass and Isaac eagerly riffles through every book he finds, his unalloyed greed changes to curiosity: “Why don’t the pyramids have windows?” “Who invented pizza?” “How did the number eight get its name?” After scouring the world’s book shelves, he ultimately comes to realize that the search itself has given him “a long life filled with wonder.” Bronze-toned, retro-style views of New York, India, and other locales are bookended between 1935 and present-day visits to idealized but recognizable versions of the New York Public Library’s Main Reading Room. There (in an act that would in real life get him ejected if not arrested), old Isaac sidles up to an unattended young patron to pass on the glittering legend. Isaac and most of the other figures are white, but Staake diversifies the skin tones of street crowds and readers in the overseas and later scenes.

More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to libraries is well-taken. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-51077-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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