This bite-sized book is for all the kids who love Inspector Flytrap, with whom Koko Dodo made her initial appearance.

READ REVIEW

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

From the Didi Dodo, Future Spy series , Vol. 1

Angleberger delivers a beginning chapter book in a series about two goofy dodo birds on a mission.

Accomplished, cautious baker Koko Dodo and self-proclaimed “future spy” Didi Dodo embark on an adventure to find Koko’s stolen Super Secret Fudge Sauce, which she needs in order to win the Queen’s Royal Cookie Contest, held that very afternoon. Didi, drawn as a gangly dodo bird on roller skates with a battered fedora and round glasses, is always ready to propose a “daring plan” in response to their latest obstacle. Brief chapters, ample cartoon illustrations, and occasional other visuals such as recipe cards and comic strips will move along emergent and reluctant readers alike. Frequent, emphatic expostulations (“WHUT ARE YOO BURDS DOON IN MAH RELISH?”) are likely to find the audience divided into love-them or hate-them camps. As Didi and Koko seek the secret ingredient and race to reach the cookie contest in time, they encounter a rapping Chihuahua, an angry yak, a penguin in a food truck, and more. The denouement reveals that just about everyone is guilty of one crime or another. While the stated goal of this tale is to determine the thief, the underlying objective is to take readers on a raucous roller-coaster ride.

This bite-sized book is for all the kids who love Inspector Flytrap, with whom Koko Dodo made her initial appearance. (Mystery. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3370-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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THE MYSTERIOUS WOODS OF WHISTLE ROOT

A strange, whimsical debut that may never quite convince readers why they should care about it.

Carly Bean Bitters is a likable 11-year-old with a strange malady: She is awake at night and sleeps during the day. This allows her to notice a strange phenomenon—a squash that appears on her roof. Carly soon meets Lewis, a musician and a rat, who explains that the squash is a member of his band, taking the place of a rat who has been abducted by owls. When Lewis introduces Carly to the other members of his rat community in the Whistle Root woods, she learns that the owls’ current behavior is abnormal—they used to dance to the rats’ moonlight tunes before they suddenly began snatching them. Thus begins a bizarre journey for Carly, who must discover the reason behind the owls’ sudden change of heart and other strange occurrences in the woods and her town. Though the back story behind the Whistle Root wood and various characters’ behavior is eventually explained, the explanations themselves are often disjointed and don’t quite add up. This feeling of arbitrariness makes it hard for readers to engage with the rats’ plight. While this quiet book achieves a timeless feel—being identifiably set neither in our world nor in another—this cannot atone for a history of the magical woods and creatures that sometimes feels nonsensical. (Fantasy. 8-10)

 

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-79263-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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