Young readers will laugh themselves silly.

READ REVIEW

BUCKLE AND SQUASH

THE PERILOUS PRINCESS PLOT

From the Buckle and Squash series , Vol. 1

Two sisters living in the Middle of Nowhere get involved in a dangerous plot in this debut fantasy from England.

Farm girl Lavender completely believes that she will marry a prince, trusting her book of fairy tales implicitly. Practical Eliza tends to the farm and their loyal but enigmatic goat, Gertrude. When Lavender decides to take her fate into her own hands and disguise herself as a princess, she is kidnapped by the minions of the evil Mordmont to hold for ransom. He believes Lavender is the real deal, and Lavender decides he must be the beast who will turn back into a handsome prince when she gives him True Love’s First Kiss. Eliza, riding Gertrude, tracks her down and tries to rescue her. However, the girls will have to contend with moat-dragons, especially mother dragon Violet. Courtauld goes wild with puns and humorous turns of phrase: “There was a pause. Then, there were some paws”; in order to escape Lavender’s singing, “[b]adgers started hitting each other over the head with rocks in order to make themselves deaf.” Most pages sport whimsical pencil drawings by the author, some using more puns, such as a drawing of a tree hung with underpants for “pantry.” It’s mayhem, with fart jokes, direct addresses to readers, gleefully ridiculous names, and more.

Young readers will laugh themselves silly. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05277-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action.

THE SILVER ARROW

The best birthday present is a magical train full of talking animals—and a new job.

On Kate’s 11th birthday, she’s surprised by the arrival of rich Uncle Herbert. Uncle Herbert bears a gift: a train. Not a toy train, a 102.36-ton steam engine, with cars that come later. When Kate and her brother, Tom, both white, play in the cab of the Silver Arrow, the train starts up, zooming to a platform packed with animals holding tickets. Thus begins Kate and Tom’s hard work: They learn to conduct the train and feed the fire box, instructed by the Silver Arrow, which speaks via printed paper tape. The Silver Arrow is a glorious playground: The library car is chockablock with books while the candy car is brimful of gobstoppers and gummy bears. But amid the excitement of whistle-blowing and train conducting, Kate and Tom learn quiet messages from their animal friends. Some species, like gray squirrels and starlings, are “invaders.” The too-thin polar bear’s train platform has melted, leaving it almost drowned. Their new calling is more than just feeding the coal box—they need to find a new balance in a damaged world. “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything,” the mamba tells them. Humans have survived so effectively they’ve taken over the world; now, he says, “you just have to take care of it.” (Illustrations not seen.)

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53953-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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