Underneath this gentle tale is the powerful message of staying true to yourself.

READ REVIEW

SONG OF THE WILD

A STORY ABOUT A COYOTE PUP AND A YOUNG GIRL

A young coyote tries to find his place in the world and develop his unique howling ability in the fourth children’s tale from MacAfee, the mother/daughter writing team.

Romer is a young male coyote who wants to be a dog, and his dream apparently comes true when he’s adopted by Belinda, a girl whose family has just moved to the area. Friendless, she doesn’t know the difference between dogs and coyotes. Initially, Romer is happy as a dog with Belinda and her family, but as he matures, he begins to have feelings of aggressiveness and disobedience he can’t control. Meanwhile, his coyote pack is being hunted by panicky humans who feel threatened by them. Under siege, the coyotes must decide whether to stay or go—a decision that is complicated by the death of the pack’s aged leader (Romer’s father, the Chief) and the resulting leadership vacuum. Romer runs away while he ponders things, and Belinda goes looking for him and gets lost. The authors have crafted a delightful yet meaningful story about needing to belong and not denying who you are—things to which kids in middle grades can surely relate. The writers display impressive knowledge of a coyote’s behavior, especially its song, but wisely don’t let it dominate the story; instead, they sprinkle bits of information throughout the book: “The average coyote can travel forty miles a day. In two days, your average coy could be out of this territory, and beyond the foothills. In five to six days, he could be in the high country.” The novel also contains an environmental message about man’s destruction of Earth as well as some fascinating Native American lore about how they viewed the coyote. Elsewhere, it sparkles with sly humor, as when the coyotes—who speak in English to each other—refer to their information source as the Coyote News Network. Maybe an old dog can’t learn new tricks, but in the authors’ capable hands, a young coyote certainly can.

Underneath this gentle tale is the powerful message of staying true to yourself.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE SKELETON ROAD

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 6

The monster-fighting gang from Wakefield departs on a post-apocalyptic road trip.

In this sixth installment of the heavily illustrated, Netflix-adapted series, quirky Jack Sullivan and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk finally leave their creature-ridden town in search of the ultimate baddie, Thrull, who previously deceived them. The quartet takes their tricked-out ride (an armored RV named Bad Mama) onto the open road (with Jack’s Zombie Squad in tow) to find the Outpost, where they believe a certain monster will be able to give them the location of the evil Tower where they believe Thrull now resides. Of course, the journey is littered with all kinds of nightmarish beasts and pitfalls (including an epic water park battle and slime-dripping baby monster), but the kids persist, armed with their endless gadgets and quick thinking. As the group races toward Thrull, the action culminates with an achingly tantalizing cliffhanger; expect audible groans and vociferous demands for the next installment. Fans of this series will revel in this fast-paced escapade with its recognizable black-and-white illustrations and trademark humor. Readers new to the series or those who are only familiar with the animated show may be a bit put off by this later volume that relies heavily on its own language of monsters and weapons. Jack, June, and Dirk are light-skinned; Quint is dark-skinned.

Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger. (Graphic fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-34-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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