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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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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