Never slumping into the formulaic doldrums, the FunJungle series keeps on chugging.

PANDA-MONIUM

From the FunJungle series , Vol. 4

In this fourth roller coaster of an endangered-species mystery, Teddy is still living at the giant zoo/amusement park called FunJungle, and he’s still smack dab in the epicenter of the brouhaha.

Middle schooler Teddy, his girlfriend, Summer, and hundreds of panda fanatics anticipate the arrival of a rare panda from China named Li Ping. However, when the guarded truck reaches FunJungle, Li Ping is gone, replaced by a ransom note. Having learned from past mistakes and at the behest of the FBI, Teddy tries to avoid getting involved. No such luck, because his bungling park-security nemesis, Marge, blackmails him into investigating the official investigation. When a villain dressed as a panda throws Teddy into the freezing-cold water of the polar-bear exhibit, Teddy and Marge forge a new dimension to their relationship. They begin to work together, making some headway into narrowing down the suspects (which include the mythical chupacabra) of this monkey-wrenching whodunit. Gibbs never scrimps on creating belly-laughing hullabaloo for his white protagonists. Interweaving animal facts (pandas can produce 50 pounds of poop per day) into his plot, the author seamlessly inspires compassion and urgency on behalf of species endangered due to lack of habitat and exotic animal trafficking.

Never slumping into the formulaic doldrums, the FunJungle series keeps on chugging. (author’s note) (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4567-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.

A WOLF CALLED WANDER

Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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