An intriguing forest story for young environmentalists.



A tailless dog and tiny woodland folks called the Shuns return in this third series entry from Franks and Rodriguez (Corky Tails: Tales of a Tailless Dog Named Sagebrush, 2017, etc.).

Sagebrush, a corgi, and her human, a white ranch owner named Young Miss, are doing chores one morning when they notice ash falling from the sky. “Run for your lives! The woods are on fire!” warn the local deer who stampede through the ranch. Young Miss and the ranch dogs get the cattle to safety and see a smoke jumper, a firefighter trained to combat forest blazes, parachute into the woods. The growing threat of the fire looms in the background of Rodriguez’s inviting illustrations, with the colors hinting at peril without overwhelming young readers. In the meantime, the smoke jumper discovers the fire was started by the previous book’s villains: careless loggers overcutting the ancient forest. They were too lazy to clean the motors of their machines, creating a fire hazard with the debris. The smoke jumper also helps a Shun find a home at the ranch. Franks’ vivid and timely tale should appeal to young conservationists, who will want to discover the forest’s fate in future installments. But with the brave smoke jumper at center stage, Sagebrush feels less vital to the story, and this picture book seems more like a middle chapter of an ongoing saga than a stand-alone tale. The dense but approachable text might be better suited to chapter-book readers, who could enjoy all three tales back to back.

An intriguing forest story for young environmentalists.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017


Page Count: 19

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A witty addition to the long-running series.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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