This short, promising series opener contains plenty to inspire young readers while they await Vol. 2: Avalanche! (author’s...

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OVERBOARD!

From the Survivor Diaries series

After a rogue wave overturns their whale-watching boat in Washington’s cold coastal waters, two preteens—unsure if their families survived—battle injury and hypothermia to reach dry land.

Only Travis, 11 and white, wears an immersion suit. With her wrist broken and only a lifejacket for protection, Marina, Latina, 12, and the tour operator’s daughter, knows they must conserve body heat and get out of the water, but she’s losing consciousness. Travis manages to get them ashore, which is no easy task for a less-than-fit kid from Ohio who’s given up gymnastics for computer gaming. On land, challenges only mount. With Marina barely breathing, Travis struggles to light a fire, then build a shelter at nightfall. Dawn brings the next issue: how to survive without food or water. There are inner demons to vanquish, too. When Marina spots a treetop nest containing a webcam, Travis must overcome a well-founded fear of heights to reach it. The author, a conservation officer for the province of Ontario, puts her considerable professional and recreational wilderness experiences to creative use. While the series framing device (a journalist interviews young survivors after they return to normal life) acts as a spoiler, the ordeals, thrillingly described, deliver plenty of suspense. Johnson doesn’t give her young heroes special help—no food cache is discovered; no bottled water floats ashore. Orban’s black-and-white illustrations help to break up the text and keep up the pace.

This short, promising series opener contains plenty to inspire young readers while they await Vol. 2: Avalanche! (author’s note, survival tips) (Adventure. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-97010-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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