A wonderfully imaginative adventure involving a missing toy.

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A Whole Nuther Thing

When a boy’s truck vanishes, replaced by a hockey puck, he longs to know why it disappeared and just where the new object came from in this rhyming picture book.

In this tale, a confused boy looks at the hockey puck that appears where his toy truck is supposed to be. “It sure wasn’t mine, and it wasn’t my mother’s; / it wasn’t my granny’s; it wasn’t my brother’s,” he explains. He tries hooking it up to a radio to analyze it (a book open to a page on UFOs and an interstellar poster in the boy’s treehouse give observant readers two clues about what eventually happens). Luckily, a traveler named Follansbee, who dresses like an old snake-oil salesman, stops by with the answer: when something disappears and another thing pops up in its place, it’s because the Hole Nuther, a curious creature who lives underground, has taken it. Nuthers like new things but always replace the objects they’ve taken, just to be fair. The Nuther, vaguely anteaterlike in shape, sports green and white striped fur and an affable disposition. The boy and Follansbee embark on a plan to entice the Nuther to take something else and return the truck. Unfortunately, the Nuther likes the vehicle as much as the boy misses it. After trying an assortment of treasures (and looking awfully brokenhearted), the boy accepts a gift from Follansbee’s elderly mother: a basket of Druthers, which look like jewel-bright paper cranes, sure to please the Nuther. When the boy wakes just before dawn, the Druthers have grown into glowing pinwheels, leaving a trail to not only the boy’s truck, which “looked better than ever,” but also to the Nuther, who has a final encounter with that hinted-at UFO. While at first the UFOs seem a bit tacked on, the inventive story delivers lots of charm as the plot gets even stranger, especially with all the clues in Fang’s (Tibby and Duckie, 2014) brightly colored images. The detailed, whimsical, and endearing illustrations show the boy experiencing a full spectrum of emotions. Definitely for the 4-to-8 crowd, this book can be read aloud at bedtime. Ross’ (Red Boots and Assorted Things, 2016) text scans smoothly, and beginning independent readers should find plenty of words they recognize among the fun, concocted, or uncommon ones like “Dingledong Dell,” “calaboose,” and “wallaby.”

A wonderfully imaginative adventure involving a missing toy.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9903086-1-4

Page Count: 28

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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