With this series, youngsters will find reading smooth sailing and look forward to future escapades. Next up: The circus...

THE CIRCUS GOES TO SEA

From the Three-Ring Rascals series , Vol. 3

In the third installment of the endearing Three-Ring Rascals chapter books, Sir Sidney’s circus brings cruise-ship entertainment to a new level, and Brambles’ heart grows as large as an ocean.

Sir Sidney continues to work with his manager, Barnabas Brambles, on being kind. Bert and Gert, the circus mice, see a long road ahead, but little do they know a sea change is coming. A letter from a Miss LaPasta arrives, inviting the circus aboard a cruise ship—all except Brambles! Miss LaPasta has “heard he’s the meanest man alive.” With that, Sir Sidney determines they will go, with Brambles. It’s only after they embark that they discover that Miss LaPasta is a lonely child who did not tell her mother, Capt. LaPasta, about the invitation. Worse, Sir Sidney is laid low by seasickness, while Brambles becomes lovesick for the captain. And although the ensemble thrills the passengers with their antics and acts, the unhappy captain sees ruin and disaster. Then they hit an iceberg! The adventures are captured in text that fully integrates art and speech bubbles, geography lessons are gratis, and the climax is marked by a meatball version of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” All’s well that ends with wedding bells.

With this series, youngsters will find reading smooth sailing and look forward to future escapades. Next up: The circus tours Europe! (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61620-365-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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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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