Young readers can only hope for this much excitement on their real field trips.

THE SPACE DISASTER

From the Mad Scientist Academy series , Vol. 3

The diverse young monsters of the Mad Scientist Academy take a whirlwind tour of the solar system thanks to an unusually realistic planetarium.

In what amounts to an updated Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System (1990), orange-haired, green-skinned Dr. Cosmic, hanging from an orrery on the ceiling, lectures on the orbits and relative distances of the eight planets. He then issues anti-gravity belts and leads the students to a planetarium that (seemingly) whisks them off to Mars before departing on an errand. Cue the computer gone haywire, which transports the class to three more un-Earthly locales: Saturn’s clouds; a Jovian moon; and a comet blasting out a tail. Being more serious-minded sorts than Ms. Frizzle’s coterie, the students exchange informational observations rather than jokes while rescuing one another from various pickles. Along with tucking in frequent factual asides about planetary conditions and other astronomical topics, McElligott closes with a summary infographic. Still, his large panels of comic art are well-stocked with sound effects and whooping alarms, sudden changes in setting, and bodies flying every which way. Rescue comes at last as the virtual blasts within the planetarium are capped by an actual one that lets in the sunlight.

Young readers can only hope for this much excitement on their real field trips. (Graphic informational fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52382-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

DANGER! TIGER CROSSING

From the Fantastic Frame series , Vol. 1

Two kids get up close and personal with some great works of art in this first in a new series.

Tiger Brooks is used to his little sister’s fantastical stories. So when the top-hatted orange pig she describes turns out to be not only real, but a next-door neighbor, Tiger enlists the help of his kooky new friend, Luna, to investigate. It turns out the pig works for the reclusive painter Viola Dots. Years ago a magical picture frame swallowed up her only son, and she’s searched for him in artworks ever since. When Tiger’s tinkering starts the magic up again, he and Luna are sucked into a reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Surprised! or Tiger in a Tropical Storm, hungry predator and all. After meeting and failing to rescue Viola’s son in this adventure, the series is set up for the intrepid pair to infiltrate other classic paintings in the future. Backmatter provides information on the real Rousseau and his life. Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy. While there are few surprises, there’s also an impressive lack of lag time. This is helped in no small part by Kallis’ art, which goes from pen-and-ink drawings to full-blown color images once the kids cross over into the painting. Tiger is a white boy, and Luna is a dark-haired Latina.

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48087-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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