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

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HOW TO MERIT IN MONSTERS

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. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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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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