A unicorn story with a twist and funny characters who are in for an adventure.

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MAGIC SMELLS AWFUL

From the Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns series , Vol. 1

A magic-obsessed boy meets four (not-so-good smelling) talking, barfing unicorns.

Twelve-year-old Xander is walking home from school one day when he sees strange rainbows shooting across the sky. The rainbows “didn’t simply fade into view, as rainbows are known to do. No, they burst through the air, as if they were in a hurry to get to the other side of the mountain.” Xander runs toward the woods to see what’s going on, only to confront moments later “an impossible creature”—and then more. In all, he meets four extremely unusual unicorns: Cradie, Stalor, Blep, and Ronk. One pukes on him! The unicorns have been banished from the magical world of Pegasia for trying to eat the other unicorns. They are not your typical unicorns. In fact, they are stinky, zombielike unicorns. But they don’t feel safe on Earth because “humans can’t be trusted,” so Xander vows to protect them. He must devise a plan to hide or disguise these talking, barfing unicorns from humans. What can go wrong? Manning’s premise is so bizarre it works, and Ellis’ use of bright, bold colors to highlight the black-and-white spot illustrations amps that premise further, making the journey of these unicorns on Earth a truly hilarious one. Both Xander and his crush, Kelly, have brown skin and straight, brown hair. Backmatter includes a spotlight on unicorn Ronk and some jokes.

A unicorn story with a twist and funny characters who are in for an adventure. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4965-5719-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Stone Arch Books

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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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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