An amusing, high-energy outing that teaches an important nature lesson.



From the Bug Scouts series , Vol. 1

A quartet of anthropomorphic invertebrates attempt to earn scout badges in the great outdoors.

Lowery kicks off his graphic early chapter book series with a scout’s oath: “All bugs are awesome / and that is a fact. / Raise your leg or antenna / and let’s make a pact.” Four “bug scouts” (two of whom are technically not bugs) introduce themselves; Josh the spider joins Abby the earthworm and Doug (“some kind of bug”) in welcoming Luna the firefly to their troop. The group sets out on a nature walk in order to find an edible plant, and a series of outdoorsy teaching moments culminates in a narrow escape from a (seemingly!) friendly frog: “Come back! I want to eat you! I mean…meet you!” Along with lots of silly jokes and banter and plenty of frantic action, the book delivers a cogent warning about the hazards of eating or sometimes even touching anything unidentified in nature. However, Lowery uses the words toadstool—a term typically reserved for any type of mushroom that is poisonous and thus inedible—and mushroom interchangeably, which may prejudice impressionable young readers against the edible type. Furthermore, some of the natural history presented in the text is a bit dubious. The very simply drawn cartoon art and big lettering make this book appropriate and appealing for beginner and newly independent readers.

An amusing, high-energy outing that teaches an important nature lesson. (Graphic early chapter book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-72633-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.


Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Silly reads for new readers to dig into.


From the Giggle Gang series

A turnip-loving duck and its friends defend their garden.

Alas, the duck, sheep, dog, and donkey immediately discover the eponymous pest in the garden when it (a groundhog?) eats a row of beans. The duck is frantic that turnips are next, but instead the pest eats the sheep’s favorite crop: corn. Peas occupy the next row, and the pest gobbles them up, too. Instead of despairing, however, the donkey cries, “Yippee! He ate ALL THE PEAS!” and catching the others’ puzzled looks, continues, “I don’t like peas.” After this humorous twist, the only uneaten row is sown with turnips, and the duck leaps to devour them before the pest can do so. In a satisfying, funny conclusion, the duck beams when the dog, sheep, and donkey resolve to plant a new garden and protect it with a fence, only to find out that it will exclude not just the groundhog, but the duck, too. A companion release, What Is Chasing Duck?, has the same brand of humor and boldly outlined figures rendered in a bright palette, but its storyline doesn’t come together as well since it’s unclear why the duck is scared and why the squirrel that was chasing it doesn’t recognize the others when they turn and chase him at book’s end.

Silly reads for new readers to dig into. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-94165-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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