From the Digby O'Day series

Smooth writing, appealing pictures, and (mostly) mild action create a pleasant enough package, but it’s still likely to be a...

Following series opener Digby O’Day in the Fast Lane (2014), Hughes and Vulliamy’s canine duo are off on another adventure, this time featuring a classy seaside hotel, a secret passage, a singing starlet with a taste for shiny jewels, and a pair of (feline) cat burglars.  

As before, there’s an old-fashioned feel to both text and pictures. When Digby tells Percy about their upcoming trip, the smaller dog is troubled because the only dinner jacket he owns “belonged to my Uncle Gus [and it’s] moth-eaten and has a couple of gravy stains….” Soon enough they are on the road, and the plot rolls along briskly, if coincidentally, from a near miss with a large, dark car (license plate “Bad 2”) to their ignominious arrival at the hotel and serendipitous rescue of a fellow beach walker. Next come the glamorous entrance of Peaches Meow, a robbery at the hotel, and, finally, a visit to a local home that includes a trip down through a tunnel to a smugglers’ cave. Vignettes, single-, and double-page illustrations, created with pencil, ink, and digital collage, provide clues and amplify the mild humor. Emerging readers may nonetheless struggle with some of the sophisticated vocabulary and the unfamiliar setting.

Smooth writing, appealing pictures, and (mostly) mild action create a pleasant enough package, but it’s still likely to be a bit twee for some readers. (map, authors’ note, quiz, first chapter of Digby O’Day Up, Up, and Away) (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7445-8

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015


From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020


From the Adventures of Henry Whiskers series , Vol. 1

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965) upgrades to The Mice and the Rolls-Royce.

In Windsor Castle there sits a “dollhouse like no other,” replete with working plumbing, electricity, and even a full library of real, tiny books. Called Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, it also plays host to the Whiskers family, a clan of mice that has maintained the house for generations. Henry Whiskers and his cousin Jeremy get up to the usual high jinks young mice get up to, but when Henry’s little sister Isabel goes missing at the same time that the humans decide to clean the house up, the usually bookish big brother goes on the adventure of his life. Now Henry is driving cars, avoiding cats, escaping rats, and all before the upcoming mouse Masquerade. Like an extended version of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904), Priebe keeps this short chapter book constantly moving, with Duncan’s peppy art a cute capper. Oddly, the dollhouse itself plays only the smallest of roles in this story, and no factual information on the real Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is included at the tale’s end (an opportunity lost).

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6575-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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