This field trip to remember will appeal to eager chapter-book readers, fans of talking-animal stories, and teachers looking...

SQUIRREL IN THE MUSEUM

Schoolyard squirrel Twitch has scientific questions but no answers, so he joins a class trip to the Galileo Museum and Science Center.

Stowing away on the school bus is just the first of Twitch’s adventures on this field trip, all breathlessly recounted in a first-person, present-tense narration that exposes his squirrel-centered understanding of the world. Chapter-book readers will both recognize his quirks, including his preoccupation with food, and enjoy a sense of superiority in their wider understanding. For this third title in a series that began with 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷1 Dog = Chaos (2011), the author-illustrator pair have perfected their formula for entertainment—a limited perspective, slapstick humor, and nonstop action. Twitch is protected inside the museum by a white boy who uses a wheelchair, often shown among his racially diverse classmates in Björkman’s amusing sketches. Other images show Twitch atop an astonished girl’s head, scaring her more than the animatronic T. Rex behind her; Twitch wreaking havoc in the museum’s gift shop; driving a model Mars rover; and flying over a Bernoulli air pressure table. Framed by conversations with science lab geckos Galileo and Newton (among the narrators in the first book), these Twitch episodes stand alone but will certainly lead readers and listeners to look for more.

This field trip to remember will appeal to eager chapter-book readers, fans of talking-animal stories, and teachers looking for an engaging read-aloud. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4167-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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