Merit badge No. 2 for Ben and his new friends will arrive soon.


From the Strange Scout Tales series , Vol. 1

What’s worse than being forced to go to summer camp? Monsters at summer camp.

Ben Beederman is an indoors kind of kid, but his outdoorsy parents have decided he needs to get out more, so they’ve sent him to Camp Nature. He’s assigned to Troop D, the one Troops A, B, and C call “Troop Dweeb.” Under the sometimes-sleeping eye of wizened senior troop leader Walter, Ben and his troop mates, video game–addicted Manuel, hypochondriac Asma, and tiny ball of anger Ginger, suffer the slings and (thankfully not literal…yet) arrows of the bullies in the other troops. When Ben finds a moldy old camp handbook that includes information on monster wrangling even as giant footprints start appearing around camp, it’s clear that something’s…afoot. When the troop leaders go missing, it’s up to Troop Dweeb to find them—but there is more to this camp’s history than any camper knows! Cody’s cryptozoological camper caper is a good kickoff for a new series aimed at those newly comfortable with chapters. Plentiful illustrations by Lambe show his roots in television animation, offering just enough Saturday-morning goofiness of a Scooby variety to hook new readers. Characters seem to be white by default, with diversity hinted at in Manuel’s name.

Merit badge No. 2 for Ben and his new friends will arrive soon. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63565-059-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Dizzyingly silly.


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.


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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