Another gripping addition to an early chapter book series that will inspire appreciation of heroines and history.

AUDREY UNDER THE BIG TOP

A HARTFORD CIRCUS FIRE SURVIVAL STORY

From the Girls Survive series

An aspiring young aerialist finds herself in the midst of a terrible tragedy in this story based on the real-life 1944 Hartford Circus Fire.

Audrey is only 12 years old, but she knows exactly what she wants to do when she grows up—she wants to fly…in the circus, that is. That’s why she can’t wait to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus when it comes to town, especially the Flying Wallendas, a family aerial act. With her two younger sisters in tow, she excitedly heads to the big top, but shortly after the show begins, a small fire ignites. The ringmaster implores everyone to stay calm, but with the tent coated in gasoline and paraffin wax for waterproofing, the flames spread quickly. Audrey must escape somehow, but not before finding her missing sisters. From the series title, it can be inferred that Audrey survives, but tense moments will leave readers wondering about the fates of her family and friends (semispoiler: Not everyone makes it out). Set against the backdrop of the Second World War (Audrey’s dad is an Army medic overseas), Audrey’s resilience shines as her father’s adage carries her through: “Be brave.” Gunderson’s text is brisk and emotionally engaging, with airtight plot development. The three sisters are White; some secondary characters are racially diverse judging by the illustrations.

Another gripping addition to an early chapter book series that will inspire appreciation of heroines and history. (author’s note, discussion questions, glossary) (Historical fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66633-062-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Stone Arch Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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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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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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