Young readers will laugh themselves silly.

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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A little ruff around the edges.

HEART OF GOLD

From the Cutiecorns series , Vol. 1

A new series features puppies with magical unicorn horns.

The Cutiecorns are thrilled when they learn that they’re about to have their Enchanted Jubilee, which means they’re ready to start learning how to use their magic. Golden retriever puppy Sparkle gets an extra surprise—her parents celebrate her Jubilee by gifting her a locket that’s a precious family heirloom. As with any book for this age group, as soon as an important item is introduced it’s guaranteed to be promptly lost; poor Sparkle is robbed of it by a mysterious stranger. While investigating, the Cutiecorns overhear a scary story about a bad cat wizard, Claw—and the description fits that of Sparkle’s assailant. They venture off into the Furbidden Forest to find the cat and retrieve the locket. The narration is filled with entertaining wordplay for young pun lovers (“pawsome”; “furever”), and the concept of magical puppies is an appealingly childcentric one. The art is a mixed bag—enormous-eyed puppies with shapes that highlight the various breeds (even Claw, despite pointy claws and teeth, is adorable in a chubby way), but the vaunted horns distractingly look an awful lot like party hats. The story really goes to the dogs and falls apart in a confusing climax that relies on deus ex machina magic and an on-the-spot plan that’s perfectly coordinated without any communication among the Cutiecorns. Book 2, Purrfect Pranksters, publishes simultaneously.

A little ruff around the edges. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-54036-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

DANGER! TIGER CROSSING

From the Fantastic Frame series , Vol. 1

Two kids get up close and personal with some great works of art in this first in a new series.

Tiger Brooks is used to his little sister’s fantastical stories. So when the top-hatted orange pig she describes turns out to be not only real, but a next-door neighbor, Tiger enlists the help of his kooky new friend, Luna, to investigate. It turns out the pig works for the reclusive painter Viola Dots. Years ago a magical picture frame swallowed up her only son, and she’s searched for him in artworks ever since. When Tiger’s tinkering starts the magic up again, he and Luna are sucked into a reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Surprised! or Tiger in a Tropical Storm, hungry predator and all. After meeting and failing to rescue Viola’s son in this adventure, the series is set up for the intrepid pair to infiltrate other classic paintings in the future. Backmatter provides information on the real Rousseau and his life. Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy. While there are few surprises, there’s also an impressive lack of lag time. This is helped in no small part by Kallis’ art, which goes from pen-and-ink drawings to full-blown color images once the kids cross over into the painting. Tiger is a white boy, and Luna is a dark-haired Latina.

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48087-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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