Next book

THE GREATEST STAR ON EARTH

From the Three-Ring Rascals series , Vol. 2

Absurd situations, winning characters and plenty of heartfelt moments and laughs combine to make this a surefire hit.

Who is the best performer? That is the question in this second in the entertaining Three-Ring Rascals chapter-book series.

The premise is quickly established: Polly Pumpkinseed, publisher of the Circus Times, decides to sponsor a contest to determine who is best in Sir Sidney’s circus. Sir Sidney thinks his stars are all great and doesn’t want anyone to have their feelings hurt. He smells trouble ahead. More to the point: He actually develops a worrywart on his nose and is directed to rest, leaving the circus in Barnabas Brambles’ hands. With circus mice Bert and Gert once again acting as his conscience, Barnabas behaves tolerably well this time. But Elsa the elephant, Leo the lion and the Famous Flying Banana Brothers become consumed with the contest. The story and the language trips along, as do the performers in their misguided efforts to win. As before, Gert’s invented expressions are sprinkled throughout, sure to arouse giggles (“elephant + bellyflop = eleflop”). Illustrations, complete with speech bubbles, are seamlessly interwoven with the text to capture the action and misadventures. There’s even a rousing song as the story moves toward its conclusion, asking “Can Three-Ring Rascals make this end okay?” Indeed, when they pull together, they can!

Absurd situations, winning characters and plenty of heartfelt moments and laughs combine to make this a surefire hit. (Graphic fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61620-245-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

Next book

CODY HARMON, KING OF PETS

From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

Next book

ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

Close Quickview