It appears there is nowhere Osborne’s Magic Tree House cannot take readers, as this successful foray suggests

DANGER IN THE DARKEST HOUR

Jack and Annie go to Normandy on June 4, 1944.

In this “super edition” of her phenomenally successful Magic Tree House books, Osborne takes Jack, Annie and readers on their longest adventure yet. Summoned by enchanter-in-training Teddy via carrier pigeon to Glastonbury on the eve of the D-Day invasion, Jack and Annie are then airlifted behind enemy lines in France to retrieve Teddy’s colleague Kathleen, who has gone missing there. Once in France, Jack and Annie deploy their respective skills to make their way through a countryside peopled with Resistance members and collaborators—only it’s not so easy to tell the difference. It’s an ambitious undertaking, plunging elementary-age readers into a complex conflict they likely know little about, but Osborne trusts her audience to navigate the rough historical waters along with her protagonists. Of necessity, some details are oversimplified, particularly the reason the Nazis are dangerous to the group of Jewish orphans Kathleen is protecting—but by introducing the Holocaust with Jack and Annie’s own developmentally appropriate incomprehension, Osborne establishes a clear-cut good-vs.-evil paradigm her readers can easily understand. Also developmentally appropriate is the magus ex machina deliverance that sees all players safely situated by the end of the book. Several pages of nonfiction backmatter will provide background and context for readers whose interests are piqued.

It appears there is nowhere Osborne’s Magic Tree House cannot take readers, as this successful foray suggests . (Adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49772-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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