DRAGONBREATH

Young everydragon Danny Dragonbreath hasn’t quite caught the knack of breathing fire yet, but he sure knows how to have adventures—or at least to inflict them on Wendell, his peace-loving iguana buddy. Having failed to impress his teacher Mr. Smaug with a hastily concocted report on the fictitious “snorkelbat,” Danny recklessly drags Wendell off to the Sargasso Sea (on a bus) to gather material on actual marine life with the help of his cousin Edward, a sea serpent. Encounters with a shark, poisonous jellyfish, vampire squid (“Instead of ink, they shoot a cloud of glowing snot at you.” “Glowing snot? That is SO COOL!”) and an aggressive giant squid ensue. Vernon’s text abets the suspension of disbelief with Wendell’s dubious regard for the mythological: “He had somehow maintained a fairly solid grip on reality despite being Danny’s friend, but there were limits.” Presented in a hybrid prose/graphic format with simply drawn, two-tone pictures in an appropriately reptilian green, Danny D’s first outing will leave readers in stitches—and on tenterhooks waiting for the next one, which, according to a preview, will feature ninja frogs. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3363-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

TIGER BOY

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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