Together with its companion, quick voyages down and up, but both grandly visionary.

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JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH

OR A PLANET FULL OF SECRETS

From the Jules Verne's Adventure Stories series

An abbreviated retelling, translated from Greek, of the Jules Verne classic, illustrated with suitably adventuresome montages.

Papatheodoulou leaves out no significant events from the plot of the original, beginning with the coded message (here in reverse printed English rather than Latin) that sends Axel and his uncle on the titular journey. With a silent local guide, they head down a certain tunnel mouth in Iceland, past encounters with giant mushrooms and battling prehistoric sea monsters, to a dramatic reemergence through an erupting volcano off Sicily. Adding map fragments and clipped photos of spelunking gear to painted views of the white trio feeling their way through dimly lit passages and strange landscapes, Samartzi ably captures the original’s exhilarating sense of wonder. That sense comes through just as strongly in the co-published retelling of From the Earth to the Moon, though this version abruptly cuts off before the proto-astronauts’ return to Earth—and, more significantly, repeatedly works in a concept not found in Verne’s novel, that the whole lunar expedition is founded on the notion of turning a weapon of war to (as the subtitle has it) a “Cannon for Peace.” Journey offers a truer taste of the iconic author’s exhilarating vision than From the Earth, which is in essence a reboot that forcibly transforms the more martial original’s thematic swords into plowshares.

Together with its companion, quick voyages down and up, but both grandly visionary. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9164091-8-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Faros Books/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

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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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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