CALVIN COCONUT: HERO OF HAWAII

From the Calvin Coconut series , Vol. 5

Fifth in the Calvin Coconut series, this fast and engaging read focuses on fourth-grader Calvin, who lives with his mom, little sister and a teenage houseguest, Stella, since his father left the family. Set on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, this installment takes a distinctive turn toward adventure as torrential rains cause terrible flooding and Calvin finds himself and a friend in danger. Rogers’ pen-and-ink drawings are nicely expressive, their playful feel becoming more subdued when depicting the more serious event of the flood. The ongoing strengths of the series are once again present in this volume—cultural details that emerge contextually and blend seamlessly with the narrative and an appealingly realistic depiction of Calvin’s busy and sometimes stressed family. In an earlier volume, his mom’s boyfriend, Ledward, began transforming into more of a father figure for Calvin, and here, Stella’s boyfriend, Clarence, also starts to serve as a role model. While young audiences will appreciate and be drawn in by the quick-moving action, the at-times predictable plot is not the point here. Rather, it is what keeps readers moving through this nuanced, often very funny and heartfelt story of a boy’s growth and understanding of his role in a family made stronger by its willingness to redefine itself. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-73962-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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

RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

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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