This bite-sized book is for all the kids who love Inspector Flytrap, with whom Koko Dodo made her initial appearance.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

From the Didi Dodo, Future Spy series , Vol. 1

Angleberger delivers a beginning chapter book in a series about two goofy dodo birds on a mission.

Accomplished, cautious baker Koko Dodo and self-proclaimed “future spy” Didi Dodo embark on an adventure to find Koko’s stolen Super Secret Fudge Sauce, which she needs in order to win the Queen’s Royal Cookie Contest, held that very afternoon. Didi, drawn as a gangly dodo bird on roller skates with a battered fedora and round glasses, is always ready to propose a “daring plan” in response to their latest obstacle. Brief chapters, ample cartoon illustrations, and occasional other visuals such as recipe cards and comic strips will move along emergent and reluctant readers alike. Frequent, emphatic expostulations (“WHUT ARE YOO BURDS DOON IN MAH RELISH?”) are likely to find the audience divided into love-them or hate-them camps. As Didi and Koko seek the secret ingredient and race to reach the cookie contest in time, they encounter a rapping Chihuahua, an angry yak, a penguin in a food truck, and more. The denouement reveals that just about everyone is guilty of one crime or another. While the stated goal of this tale is to determine the thief, the underlying objective is to take readers on a raucous roller-coaster ride.

This bite-sized book is for all the kids who love Inspector Flytrap, with whom Koko Dodo made her initial appearance. (Mystery. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3370-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Gentle, encouraging, witty fantasy that may soothe readers suffering from climate anxiety.

THE GOLDEN SWIFT

From the Silver Arrow series , Vol. 2

Children with magical talking steam trains are thrilled by their clever new plan to rescue endangered animals.

Eleven-year-old Kate absolutely adores her secret job—helping animals in need by using the magical locomotive that was a gift from her billionaire wizard uncle. Kate loves riding the Silver Arrow with Uncle Herbert; her brother, Tom; and the talking animals they escort to safe places. But now Uncle Herbert is missing, 9-year-old Tom seems more interested in hapkido than their supernatural train, and Kate’s struggling socially and academically thanks to her eco-anxiety. No matter how many animals she helps, no matter how many adults proclaim that climate change is a critical issue, the environment keeps getting worse. One night Kate discovers another train driving on the magical railroad: The Golden Swift is conducted by her classmate Jag, who thinks rescuing stranded creatures isn’t sufficiently radical. When Kate joins him, she feels more inspired and more righteous than ever before. This time, she’s actually making the world better! Kate’s unhappy discoveries of unintended consequences and the moral complexities of her activism are softened by humor. The snarky banter of the talking locomotive is an understated delight, as is the train constructed with, among others, candy and ice cream cars, an invisible car, and a dojo car. Kate and Tom are White; Jag is described as having dark skin and black hair and possibly being Indian. Charming illustrations enhance the text.

Gentle, encouraging, witty fantasy that may soothe readers suffering from climate anxiety. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-28354-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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