A few visual quibbles aside, an enjoyable romp that will leave readers salivating for the sequel.

READ REVIEW

MAC UNDERCOVER

From the Mac B., Kid Spy series , Vol. 1

When the queen of England calls, you’d better answer the phone.

Barnett takes his readers on a fun-filled ride across two continents in a mostly not-true adventure starring his childhood self. In this version, young child-of-the-1980s Mac is living in Castro Valley, California, when he receives a telephone call from the queen of England. The queen is missing some valuable treasure and needs Mac to retrieve it for her. While on the case, Mac travels across Europe in an attempt to find the thief and return the treasure to England. Barnett’s tone throughout the story is humorous, lighthearted, and a little glib, and the over-the-top story is sure to appeal to many readers. The references to the 1980s will appeal to adults who are reading aloud but will likely require explanation for the humor to truly hit home with children. (Yes, American blue jeans were a big deal in Russia in the 1980s!) Lowery’s illustrations, rendered in black, blue, and yellow, have an appropriately childlike look; due to both this stylistic choice and the book’s overall cheeky tone, it’s hard to tell whether the occasional inconsistency with the text and from illustration to illustration is intentional. There is no evident ethnic diversity in the background characters, a missed opportunity for some range in an otherwise white-only story.

A few visual quibbles aside, an enjoyable romp that will leave readers salivating for the sequel. (Historical thriller. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14359-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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