Merit badge No. 2 for Ben and his new friends will arrive soon.


From the Strange Scout Tales series , Vol. 1

What’s worse than being forced to go to summer camp? Monsters at summer camp.

Ben Beederman is an indoors kind of kid, but his outdoorsy parents have decided he needs to get out more, so they’ve sent him to Camp Nature. He’s assigned to Troop D, the one Troops A, B, and C call “Troop Dweeb.” Under the sometimes-sleeping eye of wizened senior troop leader Walter, Ben and his troop mates, video game–addicted Manuel, hypochondriac Asma, and tiny ball of anger Ginger, suffer the slings and (thankfully not literal…yet) arrows of the bullies in the other troops. When Ben finds a moldy old camp handbook that includes information on monster wrangling even as giant footprints start appearing around camp, it’s clear that something’s…afoot. When the troop leaders go missing, it’s up to Troop Dweeb to find them—but there is more to this camp’s history than any camper knows! Cody’s cryptozoological camper caper is a good kickoff for a new series aimed at those newly comfortable with chapters. Plentiful illustrations by Lambe show his roots in television animation, offering just enough Saturday-morning goofiness of a Scooby variety to hook new readers. Characters seem to be white by default, with diversity hinted at in Manuel’s name.

Merit badge No. 2 for Ben and his new friends will arrive soon. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63565-059-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Dizzyingly silly.


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 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.


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: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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