Young readers transitioning to chapter books will find themselves laughing while they empathize


From the Zigzag Kids series , Vol. 5

Mitchell thinks he isn’t brave, so an overnight camping trip fills him with worry—and, besides, he doesn't want to celebrate his birthday in the woods.

Decorated with cheerful sketches, each slender volume of the Zigzag Kids series highlights one of the children attending the titular afterschool program. In this fifth installment, Mitchell is the focus, surrounded by the familiar cast of characters. Unfolding in short, crisp sentences, the events come quickly and inspire giggles: The bus breaks down, the tent poles break and underwear spills from packs. The Nature Center is rich with flora, but Mitchell is sure that killer animals are lurking. Mitchell may not be bold, but he likes writing stories, so he imagines a character named Gary Bopper, and when he needs a boost of courage, does his best to assume Gary's bravado. Events reach a zenith for Mitchell when he finds himself alone during the scavenger hunt and comes face-to-face with nature’s wild beasties. Mitchell realizes that his fancy is more frightening than reality, and the frosting on the cake comes by way of a delicious surprise from his friends.

Young readers transitioning to chapter books will find themselves laughing while they empathize . (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73889-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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From the Ballpark Mysteries series , Vol. 1

A new series for emerging chapter-book readers combines the allure of baseball parks with the challenge of solving a mystery. Mike and Kate have tickets to a Red Sox game and an all-access pass to the park, courtesy of Kate's mom, a sportswriter. The pass comes in handy when it's reported that star player Big D's lucky bat has been stolen, as it allows them to help find the thief. Historical details about Fenway Park, including the secret code found on the manual scoreboard, a look at Wally the mascot and a peek into the gift shop, will keep the young baseball fan reading, even when the actual mystery of the missing bat falls a little flat. Writing mysteries for very young readers is a challenge—the puzzle has to be easy enough to solve while sustaining readers' interest. This slight adventure is more baseball-park travel pamphlet than mystery, a vehicle for providing interesting details about one of the hallowed halls of baseball. Not a homerun, but certainly a double for the young enthusiast. On deck? The Pinstripe Ghost, also out on Feb. 22, 2011. (historical notes) (Mystery. 6-9)



Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86703-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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