A gently whimsical rumination about compromise and friendship.


From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 2

Stormy waters await two friends on the high seas.

In this follow-up to Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island (2020), best pals Kondo and Kezumi are back in their tiny boat, sailing toward new adventures. Kondo wants to stick with their plans to visit Spaghetti Island, but Kezumi is easily distracted by nearby wonders. Her curiosity piqued, she longs to follow schools of carrot-colored, long-eared sea jumpers bounding out of the water and to explore a mysterious rusty ship. Kondo, however, is frustrated by Kezumi’s constant diversions, wishing to stay on course. When the duo shipwrecks on a strange new island, their tensions come to a head, and each stomps off angrily in opposite directions. Kezumi finds an immense broken warning bell and wants to fix it but cannot move it without Kondo’s help; will they be able to reconcile and work together? Adhering to stereotypes, Kondo, the yellow male character, is markedly larger and stockier than female Kezumi, who is orange, frilled, and slight. This quibble aside, Goodner and Tsurumi’s tale offers many alluringly adorable two-page illustrated spreads, with text divided into readably short chapters. The pacing pulls readers along like a swift current, and worldbuilding is playful and unexpected, dialing up the imagination and creating a new dimension for this tried-and-true friendship tale.

A gently whimsical rumination about compromise and friendship. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5473-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.


From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.


From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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