A worthy addition to collections for budding readers.

READ REVIEW

BLACK GOLD

White Canadian city-dwellers–turned–farm kids Cyrus and Rudy are back for a third outing.

The pair is trying to raise money by selling blackberries and dahlias as well as some enormously popular worms a neighbor has provided. Later, many of the same worms cause a funny odor problem in Cyrus’ school locker. Cyrus wants to buy a new bicycle. Maybe it’s that lust for prize money that causes him to make a snap decision to substitute a very robust Mexican grocery-store cucumber for the much-less-impressive one he carefully tended in the garden as his entry in the fair. He is quickly found out and offered “natural consequences” to make up for his cheat and be forgiven. The boys’ next-door neighbor Rachel, who is given to dressing all in one color, is now wearing all black since her beloved grandmother, Cornelia, just died. Rudy has anxiety issues; both the memorial service for Cornelia and starting at a new school are stress-filled. This loving family, however, knows how to work together to help Rudy with his worries. Their calm and wise approach is just one of the winning aspects of this simple, down-to-earth (literally, with all the worms) early chapter book that’s jam-packed with likable, well-realized characters and a compassionate but never didactic message.

A worthy addition to collections for budding readers. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1422-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the...

ADA LACE, ON THE CASE

From the Ada Lace series , Vol. 1

Using science and technology, third-grader Ada Lace kicks off her new series by solving a mystery even with her leg in a cast.

Temporarily housebound after a badly executed bungee jump, Ada uses binoculars to document the ecosystem of her new neighborhood in San Francisco. She records her observations in a field journal, a project that intrigues new friend Nina, who lives nearby. When they see that Ms. Reed’s dog, Marguerite, is missing, they leap to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Nina does the legwork and Ada provides the technology for their search for the dognapper. Story-crafting takes a back seat to scene-setting in this series kickoff that introduces the major players. As part of the series formula, science topics and gadgetry are integrated into the stories and further explained in a “Behind the Science” afterword. This installment incorporates drones, a wireless camera, gecko gloves, and the Turing test as well as the concept of an ecosystem. There are no ethnic indicators in the text, but the illustrations reveal that Ada, her family, and bratty neighbor Milton are white; Nina appears to be Southeast Asian; and Mr. Peebles, an inventor who lives nearby, is black.

The story feels a bit contrived, but Ada will be a welcome addition to the small circle of science-loving girls in the chapter-book world. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8599-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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