A fast-paced kids’ adventure novel with a solid message.



In this time-travel adventure novel, twin brothers take a trip into the past and learn profound lessons about loyalty, war and family.

Teenage twins Jake and Tom aren’t looking forward to their summer vacation. The family recently moved to the country, where Jake and Tom’s parents banned the teens’ once-ubiquitous electronics from the house. Without video games to occupy them, the twins take to wandering the countryside, where they run across a mysterious cave—and a stranger who silently beckons them inside. Suddenly Jake and Tom find themselves nearly 100 years in the past, on a Greek waterfront during World War I, wearing sailors’ uniforms neither of them has seen before, and helping to provision one of the first combat submarines. Jake’s memories of history lessons provide some context: They’re taking part in the famous Gallipoli campaign and are soon fighting to maintain the sub’s oxygen supply and dodge mines as they scuttle Turkish battleships. It turns out to be the same battle in which their great-great-grandfather fought. Based on the authors’ recollections of their grandfather’s war stories, this novel neatly recalls decades-old popular children’s adventure books. Its you-are-there war story evokes Edward Stratemeyer’s 1898 classic Under Dewey at Manila, while its problem-solving brothers are reminiscent of the Hardy Boys series. The book has a familiar kid-lit premise that readers will likely find fantastic but not unbelievable. Jake and Tom leap into action to protect their new friends in the submarine’s crew, and they learn life lessons, but the novel never takes on a preachy tone. The scenes in the cave drag a bit, but never enough to stop the narrative flow. Kids and adults will likely be able to disappear into this book for a few hours and feel as though they’ve been on an adventure themselves.

A fast-paced kids’ adventure novel with a solid message.

Pub Date: March 25, 2013


Page Count: 162

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2013

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.


From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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