Action, sea creatures, and a mermaid make this thoughtful adventure a delight.


Misfit Soraya must help a mermaid escape the aquarium without being seen in this series opener.

Fourth grader Soraya’s idol is comic-book hero Nimbla Moony. Her mom wants her to make real friends, but her classmates think she’s weird because of the things she says (often inspired by Nimbla Moony’s adventures). During a field trip to the aquarium, Soraya wanders off and is surprised to spot a human face amid the coral in the Ocean Journey exhibit. Even more shocking is when the face turns out to belong to a mermaid named Estelle, asking for help. Accidentally captured by fishing nets, Estelle needs Soraya’s help getting back to her ocean kingdom. With the help of the aquarium animals, Soraya must be brave like Nimbla Moony and get Estelle out of the crowded building without anyone seeing her. In the process, Soraya and Estelle discover they have an astonishing amount in common despite their dissimilarities. Alikhan pens a sweet story of a forming friendship and how there are positives to being different. Themes of an absent parent and selflessness are also present. Sohrabi’s bright, colorful, full-page illustrations are sprinkled through the 10 short chapters, with Soraya’s comic about the adventure, illustrated by Naalchigar, at the end. Soraya has pale skin and straight, black hair, and she explains her name is Persian. Estelle has brown skin, long, curly black hair, and dark eyes.

Action, sea creatures, and a mermaid make this thoughtful adventure a delight. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6815-6

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.


From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.


From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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