November 17, 2017

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Chapter Books Xpress Reviews | April 2017

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1704-Xpress-CB-CoversCyr, Maxim. Dragonilos: Los orígenes. illus. by Karine Gottot. 86p. (Dragonilos: Bk. 1). Uranito. Sept. 2016. pap. $7.95. ISBN 9786079344894.

Gr 2-4 –In this first volume of the series, readers are introduced to the Dragonilos: small, horned, winged creatures who get involved in mischief all over the world. Readers might guess that they are dragons combined with potatoes, but they are actually part of the gargoyle family tree. Children meet specific Dragonilos through short, comical vignettes interspersed with background information about a variety of topics and related word games. The brief chapters and general silliness will be engaging for young readers, although some of the topics and jokes may be outside their knowledge base. The bathroom jokes and puns are sure to land—but the references to expensive perfume may be confusing. The typeface is a bit small for early readers, though the pictures help carry the story. There are already four books in the series, so fans will have many opportunities to read about the Dragonilos. VERDICT A bit scattered, but worth recommending to Spanish-speaking fans of “Squish” and other humorous early graphic novels.–Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Kirby, Lee. Super Turbo vs. the Flying Ninja Squirrels. illus. by George O’Connor. 128p. (Super Turbo: Bk. 2). S. & S./Little Simon. Dec. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481488884; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781481488877.

Gr 2-5 –Super Turbo, Professor Turtle, Boss Bunny, The Green Winger, Fantastic Fish, Great Gecko, and Wonder Pig, super pets extraordinaire, are back in action. This time, Whiskerface and his minions steal a Golden Acorn but lose it. To top it off, Professor Turtle is acting differently. When Ninja Squirrels invade the school and demand that their sacred acorn be returned, the Super Pet Superhero League must intervene. Can Super Turbo and his friends find the acorn before Whiskerface does? What does Whiskerface want with it? The black-and-white illustrations are detailed and engaging. The characters are entertaining and will easily draw in young readers. Fans of “Captain Underpants,” “Captain Awesome,” and humorous pet tales will enjoy this early chapter book series. VERDICT Although kids don’t need to be familiar with the first installment to understand this volume, they will be eager to read both. A solid purchase for libraries serving chapter book readers.–Kira Moody, Whitmore Public Library, Salt Lake City

Marlow, Susan K. Andi Saddles Up. illus. by Leslie Gammelgaard. 112p. (Circle C Stepping Stones: Bk. 1). Kregel. Mar. 2017. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780825444302.

Gr 1-3 –Andi Carter’s birthday dream comes true when she turns nine and is finally old enough to ride her horse, Taffy, around the family ranch on her own. However, Andi’s older brother and head of the family, Chad, puts some firm limits on her new freedom. She is not to attempt to ride her horse while standing up, and she is to end her budding friendship with Sadie Hollister, the daughter of a land rival. Andi knows she should listen to Chad, but maybe her brother doesn’t always know best. Illustrated with line drawings, Marlow’s title is part of an early chapter book series about a young girl living on a ranch in the late 1800s. Andi and her family have obviously been through some tough times with the loss of her father (although that is not addressed in detail). The Carters rely on their Christian faith, hard work, and love to see them through. Andi is a likable enough heroine without being overly sweet, but there is little here to make this selection stand out among other early chapter books. VERDICT An additional purchase for libraries needing to supplement their historical fiction or Christian fiction collections for young readers.–Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH

Schmidt, Annie M.G. Tow-Truck Pluck. tr. from Dutch by David Colmer. illus. by Fiep Westendorp. 200p. Pushkin. Jan. 2017. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781782691129.

Gr 2-4 –Considered a classic children’s book in the Netherlands (originally published in 1971), this title has been translated into English for today’s children and includes the wonderful original illustrations. The tale begins with Pluck and his tow truck in a large city trying to find a home. Discovering that every home is taken, Pluck decides to spend the night in the city park when Dolly, a “beautiful fat pigeon,” tells him about available space in a tower at the Pill Building, and Pluck quickly takes up residence. He soon meets the building’s occupants: Mrs. Brightner, a germophobic older woman who carries a can of disinfectant with her wherever she goes; the Stamper family, a father and six small sons who have carpeted their floor with mattresses so as not to get in trouble with Mrs. Brightner, who lives below them; a cockroach named Zaza; and a host of other quirky, endearing characters. Pluck befriends Mrs. Brightner’s daughter, Aggie, and involves her in some of his many adventures. The biggest moment comes when Pluck and his friends try to save Dovey Gardens from being cleared and paved, which would destroy the homes of a multitude of animals, some of them relatives of Pluck’s friends. The book is divided into short, heavily illustrated chapters. The writing is reminiscent of that of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle or Pippi Longstocking. Pluck always manages to save the day, and his tow truck comes in handy. Funny and endearing, this is a story to read, enjoy, and share. Some may be put off by the illustrated cover, which gives the impression that this selection is aimed at a younger audience, but if booktalked, this title could be unputdownable in the right hands. VERDICT Pluck is, indeed, a very plucky character with wild escapades that won’t be forgotten. Recommended for large library collections.–Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NC

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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