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

ALBERT HOPPER, SCIENCE HERO

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

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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