Absolutely charming—no subterfuge about that.


The Franklin brothers are on a mission, and it’s called Operation Lollipop—but while the two boys execute their plans to liberate a lollipop from a kitchen cupboard, it seems another member of the Franklin household is out to foil the plan.

Franklin Brothers Investigations—the other FBI—are working to recover a coveted lollipop after bedtime. They’ve drawn a map, planted booby traps, and selected rendezvous points to keep from being caught by their parents, who are just steps away from the prize. The two brothers use walkie-talkies and a tablet to keep in contact while one stays upstairs and the other executes the mission. At the final checkpoint, though, the secret agent realizes that he’s been double-crossed when Secret Agent Girl (aka their sister) and the family dog retrieve the candy instead. This adorable bedtime book can be read to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and the meter and rhyme are perfect. The illustrations are full of action and easter egg–like details readers will enjoy finding night after night. Some of those cute details include the magnifying glasses on the secret agent’s pajama pants, the child’s drawing of the family that reveals the third sibling, and the sister secret agent’s own “lollipop plan” on her bedroom floor. The family appears to be mixed race, the father and children presenting with brown skin and dark brown hair, mom with white skin and light hair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Absolutely charming—no subterfuge about that. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6921-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An innocuous telling, sure to slip in effortlessly with other firetruck books.


A little fire engine discovers what it’s good at by eliminating what it is not.

Who knew disappointment could be such a keen teaching tool? Narrator Flash is eager to demonstrate firefighting prowess, but every attempt to “save the day” yields bubkes. First Flash is too little to handle a fire at the airport (Crash, an airport crash tender, handles that one). Next Flash is too short to help a tall building that’s on fire (that honor goes to Laddie, a turntable ladder). Finally, an airplane and a foam tender together solve a forest-fire problem. Only when a bridge is suddenly blocked by snow, with all the other trucks on the wrong side of it, does Flash have the opportunity to save a pet shelter that’s ablaze. (Readers will note characters in shirtsleeves at the beginning of the book, so this is a very unexpected snowstorm.) Calvert deftly finds a new way to introduce kids to different kinds of firefighting vehicles by setting up Flash in opposition to situations where it’s just not the best truck for the job. The anthropomorphized engines and planes irritatingly include unnecessary eyelashes on trucks with feminine pronouns, but this is mitigated by the fact that the girls get cool names like “Crash” and save the day first. Enthusiastic if unremarkable digital art presents both firefighters and citizens in an array of genders and races.

An innocuous telling, sure to slip in effortlessly with other firetruck books. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4178-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strong series start.


From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet