An appealing picture book distinguished by its colorful images, creatively distilled meteorological facts, and simple but...

KOBEE MANATEE

A WILD WEATHER ADVENTURE

A manatee and his friends swim across the Gulf Stream and brave a hurricane on their way to the Bahamas in this colorful adventure for young readers.

In his second engaging children’s picture book, Thayer (Kobee Manatee: Heading Home to Florida, 2013) expertly weaves in true-life weather facts with a simple but eventful tale. A resourceful manatee named Kobee sets out on a 300-mile swim from Key West, Florida, to Nassau with his friends, a hermit crab named Pablo and a purple, pink-maned sea horse called Tess. There, Kobee plans to surprise his sister, Kim, on her birthday. But before the travelers reach the festive celebration, amid the multicolored coral reefs of the Bahamas’ warm waters, they face some suspenseful challenges. First, there’s a scary waterspout and a thunderstorm at sea: “Two lightning bolts shot right past us. The sky rumbled and roared.” A spinning hurricane follows: “The east winds swirled….I went for air just as a GIANT wave spun us around like a washing machine.” Throughout the adventure, Kobee is both a navigator and educator; additional facts and figures, boxed and labeled “Kobee’s Fun Facts,” supplement the manatee’s explanations of the weather phenomena that the trio encounter. The book also tells its young audience, in text that doesn’t talk down to them, how to protect themselves in a thunderstorm, how storms rotate depending on the hemisphere they occupy, and how to identify different types of clouds: “white, wispy” cirrus, “creamy cotton” cumulus, and cirrocumulus resembling “fish scales.” Readers also learn of the two types of waterspouts (tornadic and fair weather), why the sky is blue, the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius, and that “a raindrop falls at an average speed of 17 miles per hour.” Despite the book’s encyclopedic quality, however, it’s a charming, simple story. The illustrations, rendered in colorful acrylic on illustration board, harmonize nicely with the active text, mixing real-world and fantasy elements in lavish sky and ocean settings.

An appealing picture book distinguished by its colorful images, creatively distilled meteorological facts, and simple but dynamic storytelling.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0988326941

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thompson Mill Press

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2015

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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