A tall country tale involving dentures, beans, and an amazing hambone.

Life on a farm can be hard. One year, the soil is so unforgiving that all the family can grow is beans. Dad makes it work by packing them in sacks and taking them far away to sell. Still, all he can buy with the money he earns is a big hambone, just what’s needed to flavor the family’s beans for dinner. Grandpa loves this dinner so much he declares an enthusiastic “HAL-LA-LOO-YA!” Meanwhile, the narrator’s “economical” mom saves the hambone for next week’s dinner. News spreads to the neighbors, who borrow this splendid hambone. Now the hambone is away from the family for two or three days at a time, but Grandpa “would always manage to wrangle an invitation to dinner.” One day, Mrs. McIvey drops by to borrow the hambone to make a nice supper after her daughter’s wedding; of course she invites Grandpa. He rushes to the well to wash his face and sneezes, sending his dentures down into the darkness. Quick-thinking brother Sam ties the hambone to a fishing line and lowers it, to be clamped on tight by the dentures, which “had grown…used to eating beans flavored with that hambone.” Alas, the line snaps, but all is not lost—now the neighbors come by for some of that ham-flavored well water. Storyteller Hayes spins his yarn with aplomb, punctuating it with the titular exclamation. Castro L.’s illustrations suggest Norman Rockwell, depicting a largely white rural Southwest community.

Tongue-in-cheek fun. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-941026-54-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2017

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Dizzyingly silly.


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.


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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