Information and entertainment in an appealing comic format.

THE OCEAN DISASTER

From the Mad Scientist Academy series

Dr. Cosmic takes his students on an underwater adventure using a specially designed underwater vehicle he calls a SKWID.

McElligott explores the ocean depths in this fourth title in the Mad Scientist Academy series, STEM-friendly science fantasies reminiscent of Ms. Frizzle’s Magic School Bus trips but with less text and a more modern approach. Sequential panels and occasional full-page illustrations, done with ink, pencil, and digital techniques, show red-haired, green-skinned Dr. Cosmic and his species-diverse students: a robot with pageboy hair, a bat-winged vampire, a zombie, a wolflike creature, something reptilian, and something faintly insectoid, characters first introduced in The Dinosaur Disaster (2015). His new assistant, Professor Fathom, is a dark-skinned mermaid with long black hair. Using student questions and an intriguing gadget they call a handbook that unfolds to offer encyclopedialike fast facts and interesting details, the author smoothly weaves solid information into his narrative. He describes sonar and echolocation; how animals get oxygen; food energy, producers and consumers, and the food web; phyto- and zooplankton; toothed and baleen whales; sperm whales and squid. There’s even a reminder of the need for a clean-energy source for their vehicle: Its biofuel is made from seaweed. All these concepts become part of the story, making this tale a surprisingly well-constructed teaching vehicle. Endpaper sketches detail Dr. Cosmic’s latest inventions.

Information and entertainment in an appealing comic format. (more ocean organisms) (Graphic science fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6719-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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