A giggly geography lesson for trip planners and daydreamers.


Buckle up and get ready for a rollicking road trip with merry monsters.

This cast of joyful monsters in bright colors with myriad different sizes, shapes, facial features, and appendages is guaranteed to make young readers giggle. In this tour of urban and nature-based tourist attractions, the rhyming west-to-east journey connects U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Hollywood, Nashville, Orlando, and the nation’s capital, with national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Everglades, and the Cape Cod National Seashore (with one generic amusement park tossed in for good measure). Most destinations merit a double-page spread with scrapbook border and the state name emblazoned across a federal highway marker. Lively illustrations capture a monster’s mischief at every stop. The San Francisco cable car turns one monster slightly green with nausea. Another grinning monster mugs for the camera as the fifth face on Mount Rushmore while a third gets its “15 seconds’ fame” compliments of Wrigley Field’s Kiss Cam. Decked out in sunglasses and floral swim trunks, a daring monster boogie boards over Niagara Fall. But who knew another would get dizzy atop Lady Liberty? In a quiet feminist statement, readers are admonished that “should you meet the president, / assure her he [the monster] won’t bite.” Background illustrations show tourists with a range of skin tones and ages, and the aforementioned president is white.

A giggly geography lesson for trip planners and daydreamers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-53411-037-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones.


From the The Binder of Doom series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of the Binder of Doom series, readers will reconnect with Alexander Bopp, who leads the Super Secret Monster Patrol, a group of mutant children who protect the citizens of their beloved town of Stermont.

His friends Nikki and Rip rejoin him to add new monsters and adventures to their ever growing binder of monsters. As in series opener Brute-Cake (2019), Alexander and his friends attend the local library’s summer program, this time for “maker-camp.” They are assigned a Maker Challenge, in which each camper is to “make a machine that performs a helpful task”; meanwhile, mechanical equipment is being stolen all over Stermont. Unfortunately, the pacing and focus of the book hop all over the place. The titular boa constructor (a two-headed maker-minded snake and the culprit behind the thefts) is but one of many monsters introduced here, appearing more than two-thirds of the way through the story—just after the Machine Share-Time concludes the maker-camp plotline. (Rip’s “most dangerous” invention does come in handy at the climax.) The grayscale illustrations add visuals that will keep early readers engaged despite the erratic storyline; they depict Alexander with dark skin and puffy hair and Nikki and Rip with light skin. Monster trading cards are interleaved with the story.

Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones. (Paranormal adventure. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31469-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A charming fantasy with a noble moral.


In Pellico’s children’s series starter, a young girl bravely befriends a young witch.

As the sun begins to set on a splendid Halloween, 7-year-old Sabrina and her brother, Stephen, come across a truly spectacular sight. A frightened witch is sitting in a tree after colliding with it in flight; now, she’s dropped her broom, and a group of boys on the ground want to capture her, because, in their view, “Witches are bad” and not to be trusted. Plucky Sabrina climbs the tree with the witch’s broom in hand and introduces herself. Anna, the young witch, is also 7—or at least she thinks so, but because she has no friends, she’s never celebrated a birthday. The two girls hit it off and make plans to meet again and celebrate Anna turning 8. On her broom, the witch soars away, using magic to create a shower of candy for her new pal. Pellico’s book for early readers presents a tale of mystery and friendship with vibrant illustrations to swiftly relay a strong message. The mix of simple and complex vocabulary works well, introducing new terms while also providing plenty of familiar words for youngsters. Despite the short length, there’s adequate dialogue, description, and character development; however, there are a few instances when the sheer volume of text overwhelms the page. Berry’s illustrations offer vivid color and a sense of whimsy; for example, Sabrina is adorned in a tiara, cape, and cowboy boots, showcasing her offbeat, intriguing personality. The brisk plot leaves room for expansion, but its simplicity will resonate with young readers, and it delivers a powerful message about treating strangers with kindness.

A charming fantasy with a noble moral.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-307-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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