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From the Survivor Diaries series

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

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 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

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 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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