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

THE GREATEST STAR ON EARTH

From the Three-Ring Rascals series , Vol. 2

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 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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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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Dog training, trauma recovery, and just enough urgency to keep it moving: a quiet pleasure.

STELLA

A traumatized working dog has one last chance after the death of her handler.

Stella, a bomb-sniffing beagle, has been in three foster homes since the death of her handler, Connie, in an explosion. Now she’s got PTSD, and she panics at loud noises, fire, or being left alone. Unable to do anything for her, the humans plan to euthanize Stella until she receives a last-minute reprieve. An old friend of Connie’s, a world-class dog trainer, decides to take on Stella’s rehabilitation as a favor to her old friend. Through Stella’s doggy point of view (usually, though not entirely, limited to what a dog could theoretically comprehend), readers are introduced to dog training with Esperanza and her 11-year-old daughter, Cloe. Esperanza and Cloe, who come from a Spanish-speaking family background, live in the country with other working dogs, a cat, and sheep. Perhaps in this rural environment Stella can finally recover. As her bond with Cloe grows, Stella learns more about what Cloe’s sometimes-strange smells mean when she first witnesses Cloe have an epileptic seizure. Stella’s narration duly reports all the human conversations she doesn’t understand; combined with Stella’s somewhat anthropomorphized trauma recovery, Cloe’s hopes and fears come through clearly. There’s plenty of training process to please lovers of realistic dog books.

Dog training, trauma recovery, and just enough urgency to keep it moving: a quiet pleasure. (discussion questions) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62972-901-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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