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

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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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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