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

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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A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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