From the Albert Hopper, Science Hero series , Vol. 1

Will leave readers eager to…GO AGAIN! (Informational fantasy. 7-10)

A ground-shaking, pulse-pounding journey to the Earth’s core and back (with a few side trips along the way).

In typically grandiloquent tones—“We shall be…WORMING TO the CENTER OF THE EARTH!”—froggy explorer Albert Hopper invites Junior Science Heroes (and niece and nephew) Polly and Tad on a voyage of danger and discovery aboard aptly named mechanical drill Wiggles. Though Tad’s inability to leave the onboard “Anything Can Happen” button alone results in time travel, an encounter with prehistoric cavefrogs (“We shall explore this…UNEXPLORED CAVERN!”), and other unexpected twists, the trip also features plenty of basic natural science. The travelers go from crustal plates to core (“The inner core is nearly…TEN THOUSAND DEGREES!”), up and down a volcano’s lava tubes, and through an earthquake. Meanwhile Hopper or know-it-all Polly discourse on topics geological, from plate tectonics and the three types of rocks to cratons. Thick-lined cartoon vignettes with green highlights on nearly every page capture the comical turns better than they do the science, but along with tucking in the occasional rudimentary chart or poster, Himmelman backs up the factual content with summary notes from both Junior Science Heroes at the end. For an equally rousing but visually richer dive into the depths, follow up with Jon Chad’s Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth (2012).

Will leave readers eager to…GO AGAIN! (Informational fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23016-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape.

In mid-19th-century Nevada, a colt named Sky grows up to lead his band of wild horses.

Parry’s moving story follows the pattern of her recent animal tales, A Wolf Called Wander (2019) and A Whale of the Wild (2020), chronicling a wild animal’s life in the first person, imagining its point of view, and detailing and appreciating the natural world it inhabits. As Sky grows from wobbly newborn to leader of his family, he faces more than the usual challenges for colts who must fight their stallions or leave their herds when they are grown up. Fagan’s appealing black-and-white illustrations help readers envision this survival story. Sky’s adventures include forced service with the Pony Express; being befriended by an enslaved Paiute boy; escaping to find his now-captured band; and helping them escape the silver miners who’d destroyed their world. Animal lovers will applaud his ingenuity and stubbornness. Although Sky’s band has suffered serious injuries (his mother is blind), he and Storm, a mare who was his childhood companion, lead them toward safety in a new wilderness. The writer’s admiration for these wild horses and her concerns about human destruction of their environment come through even more clearly in a series of concluding expository essays discussing the wild horses, the Indigenous Americans, the natural history of the Great Basin, silver mining, and the Pony Express.

A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9780062995957

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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