THREE DAYS ON A RIVER IN A RED CANOE

The jacket simulates an exercise-book cover, the crayon drawings are suggestive of a child's, the opening words put you in her place—"I was the one who first noticed the red canoe for sale in a yard on the way home from school." And then we are off on a three-day canoe trip, picture-mapped at the outset, with "My mom and my aunt Rosie and my cousin Sam." As presented, it's an adventure for the reader or looker-on too. The words "We drove and drove/ and drove and drove. . ." rise and dip, with the little car, across the top and bottom of the wide page; "Our First Morning on the River" brings a double-page spread of multiple activities ("Sam tries paddling"; "we find crayfish"); with the first night's stopover come illustrated recipes for dumplings and fruit stew, and illustrated instructions for putting up a tent. As on all such expeditions, there are high spots and low spots and sudden changes: in the rain, "I am shaking my paddle at the sky and yelling," when the sun comes out through a hole in the clouds and a rainbow appears. Fish jump around—pictured and labeled; an accident occurs—after which Sam, the culprit, "gets up as though the canoe were a baby's cradle." The resonant wordings, the eventfulness, the information—plus the spontaneity and contagious delight—combine into an experience that can be relived, with new discoveries, again and again.

Pub Date: April 6, 1981

ISBN: 0688040721

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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