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From the Word Travelers series

This word-based adventure falters in its oversimplification of a complicated place.

Two best friends have an etymological adventure.

Normally, Eddie, a White boy, and MJ, an Indian American girl, spend their sleepover Saturdays playing and watching movies. One special Saturday, however, they uncover Eddie’s grandfather’s tome on word origins. When they open what they call the Awesome Enchanted Book, it magically whisks them away to the Indian city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. There, they meet a young Rajasthani prince named Dev who needs to find his family’s ancestral treasure to rebuild a village school destroyed in a typhoon. But Dev isn’t the only one after the treasure: A mustache-twirling White man named Mr. Raffles wants that money too. Together, the three kids race to solve the word-related clues in order to find the treasure first. While this etymologically themed series opener’s premise is promising, its execution oversimplifies India's complexity. Dev, for example, comes from a Hindu dynasty even though the book takes place largely in and around a city and monument constructed by ancient Muslim rulers, who are never mentioned as such. Additionally, the words tufan (source of typhoon) and pajama are identified only as Hindi in the glossary despite their journeys through Arabic and/or Persian; the phrase Holy Cow is introduced with no explanation of its colonialist origins. These choices shortchange both readers and premise. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This word-based adventure falters in its oversimplification of a complicated place. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-205-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

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: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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