From the Girls Survive series

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

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. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022


A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

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 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014