Delightful slapstick sleuthery.


From the Mr. Penguin series , Vol. 4

It’s foolishness on the Pyramid Express and a tour of the Tomb of Doom.

Bumbling adventurer Mr. Penguin (an actual penguin) and his band of assistants, Colin (a kung-fu spider who communicates via writing on his notepad), Edith Hedge (human BFF), and Gordon (Edith’s omnivorous pigeon) return for a fourth spine-tingling, rib-tickling mystery adventure. Ostensibly arriving in the Egyptian desert town of Laghaz for a rest, Edith sets off with Gordon for a tour—but doesn’t return. When Cynthia, her unexpected (to Mr. Penguin and Colin, at least) twin sister, shows up, the group discovers Edith has been kidnapped from the local library. Gordon has a clue to her whereabouts…but, of course, he has attempted to eat it. They hop on a train full of possible suspects headed for Wadi al Khatar, the Valley of Peril. The excitable Mr. Penguin has several freakouts about mummies and bandits until one of his fears actually pans out, and he and Colin find themselves tossed from the train. Thankfully, a young fan of Mr. Penguin’s previous…um detective successes, a boy named Farooq, along with Iris, his eye-patch–wearing cat, have been following the group. They rescue the adventurers and get them to the valley, which, it turns out, is aptly named. Fans of the series will enjoy this twisty mystery with enough laughs and lively illustrations (containing subtle clues) to keep pages turning to the silly close.

Delightful slapstick sleuthery. (Adventure. 6-11)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68263-459-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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


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


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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