An enjoyable debut book for intermediate readers, but a stronger edit might have maximized its appeal.

Jennie Fowler, Nighttime Prowler

FOWLER & FRIENDS SERIES BOOK 1

A little girl’s friends and siblings scheme to keep her sleepwalking habit under control in this debut children’s chapter book.

Jennie is finally old enough to go to summer camp, but her mom won’t let her go. She’s afraid Jennie will walk in her sleep, get lost in the woods and be eaten by a bear. However, when the little girl’s sleepwalking habit and talent for painting combine, it attracts the notice of the summer camp’s director and drama teacher, who happen to live in the same apartment building. They convince Jennie’s mother that she will be safe. Meanwhile, Jennie’s siblings and friends, led by an enterprising girl named Trinity (who carries her pet fish’s bowl around with her), formulate plans to keep the sleepwalking Jennie in her cabin at night. Using yarn, duct tape, assorted maracas and “a CD with tranquil nature sounds,” they execute their projects, dubbed “Operation Web,” “Operation Honey Bear,” “Operation Blue Fish” and “Operation Maraca,” which have mixed results. Their adventures eventually involve an unexpected outing for Fin the fish, a game of T-ball and an annoying boy nicknamed “Spaghetti Nose.” Young readers will undoubtedly enjoy spending time with Jennie and friends in this first installment in a series. However, there are some errors in the otherwise clean, readable text, including a few glaring slips: “peaked with curiosity” instead of “piqued” and multiple misspellings of “leeches” as “leaches.” Readers may also find Jennie’s very brief encounter with a denizen of the woods to be an anticlimactic finale.

An enjoyable debut book for intermediate readers, but a stronger edit might have maximized its appeal.

Pub Date: July 28, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Cathydia Press

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more