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


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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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.


From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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