ONLINE ALERT! Looking for Tom Angle-
berger’s Inspector Flytrap in The Goat Who
Chewed Too Much? You’ll find Julia
Smith’s starred review of this “wacky
romp of a mystery” on Booklist Online,
where it was our Review of the Day on
ran 13 miles from Newcastle to the sea. In a
heavy Northern accent, full of slang, Harry
describes the arduous run, marked by heat,
thirst, a sweet little gal, and ice cream. A tender and surprising ending gives the book extra
weight. The language may be a hurdle for
some readers, but it is tempered by Rubbino’s
watercolor, gouache, pencil, and ink illustrations that delight with every page and bring
the story to life. This intergenerational story
sweetly captures the importance of memory
and shows how the yearning for fun and adventure never really changes. —Ilene Cooper
Henry and the Chalk Dragon.
By Jennifer Trafton. Illus. by
Apr. 2017. 240p. Rabbit Room, $15.99 (9780986381881).
An ordinary day at La Muncha Elementary becomes anything but when Henry
Penwhistle accidentally brings a dragon to
school in his lunchbox.
Artistic Henry knows the
dragon on his bedroom
chalkboard is a work of art,
but even he’s amazed when
the creature slips down off
the wall, wreaks havoc, and
disappears. Donning his
silver raincoat “armor” and
wielding an eraser, “Sir” Henry sets off on a
quest to track it down—a quest that becomes
all the more urgent after the dragon destroys
the class’ insipid entry for the National Vegetable Week Art Show. Further disasters ensue,
but with help from his wildly excited classmates—notably budding bard Jade, as fearless
as she is handy at off-the-cuff quatrains, and
science-minded Oscar Rockbottom, owner
of a voracious pet octagon—Henry at last
sees both dragon and art exhibit made spectacularly new. Along with tucking in chivalric
principles like “Tell the Truth” and “Be Kind,”
Trafton offers the important message that it
takes real courage to “make the best thing you
can, and love it as hard as you can, and let it
go loose in the world.” She also fills the colorful supporting cast with children and adults
who discover distinctive creative impulses
of their own. Altogether, a delicious face-off
between forces of conformity and creativity
run amok, spiced with offbeat names as well
as insights expressed with eloquent simplicity.
By Katherine Coville. Illus. by Celia
Mar. 2017. 144p. Knopf, $16.99 (9780553539752).
Ivy lives in the clean, orderly town of
Broomsweep with her grandmother, a healer
with a special affinity for magical creatures.
Hearing that the new queen is touring the
countryside to choose “the best town,” trou-
blemaker Mistress Peevish leads her neighbors
in pressuring Ivy and Grandmother to tidy
their cottage and rid their yard of overgrown
herbs and magical creatures. Little do the
townsfolk realize that her community’s very
survival will soon depend upon the healer’s
friends: a recuperating griffin, a small dragon,
and a swarm of pixies. The fact that the story
takes place over the course of a few days in a
relatively small setting adds to the cozy atmo-
sphere of this appealing early chapter book.
The large type, wide-spaced lines, and many
illustrations make it a good choice for young-
er readers. Full of innocent charm, this simply
written, unpretentious fantasy will have par-
ticular appeal for children who love animals,
including those celebrated in medieval her-
aldry. —Carolyn Phelan
By Carol Goodman.
Mar. 2017. 368p. Viking, $16.99 (9781101997666).
While dealing with the turmoil of WWII
and the recent Japanese bombing of Pearl
Harbor, four kids—Madge, Joe, Walt, and
Kiku—with the aid of the hidden pages of the
Kelmsbury Manuscript about King Arthur, begin to break the coded message that will aid
in keeping America safe from another vicious
attack. But can they decipher it in time? As the
evil-looking man they’ve dubbed “Mr. January” closes in, identical dreams draw them into
the world of King Arthur, revealing each child’s
true capabilities. But all is not rosy: allies are
soon questioned, trust is broken, and betrayal
is forthcoming. Despite it all, they learn that
being “just kids” doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of brilliance, love, and bravery—indeed,
they’ll need all that and more to solve the code,
retrieve their missing friends and family, and
save New York City and her Lady Liberty! A
finely constructed and quite often thrilling adventure story for middle-grade readers, with a
historical setting and the added twist of medieval magic. —Meghan Oppelt
Miss Ellicott’s School for the
By Sage Blackwood.
Mar. 2017. 368p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $16.99
(9780062402639). Gr. 5–8.
Chantel Goldenrod is the most talented
student at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical
Maidens. While others struggle for years to
summon a familiar, Chantel summoned hers (a
snake named Japheth) at age six. Unfortunately
for the more magically minded, Miss Ellicott
emphasizes deportment and obedience over
the study of spells, potions, and wards. But
when Miss Ellicott and the rest of the sorcer-
esses disappear, Chantel must ignore all rules
in order to find them. Meanwhile, it’s hard to
at his doorstep. Inside is the drawing. And we
watch as the boy draws a crude picture of him-
self inside the boat.
The next thing we
know, he is aboard
it, flying to the old
man. When he ar-
rives, they embrace;
the boy hands the
man the envelope,
and flies off. Inside
the envelope is the picture the boy has drawn.
Fin. This strange story is drawn in gorgeous,
full-bleed, sepia-toned, sharp-angled Expressionist style, like storyboards for a Tim Burton
film. But what does it mean? Some readers
may postulate that the boy and man are the
same person, separated only by age. After all,
there are many parallels between them. Others
may interpret it as simply an evocative dream.
Whatever it is, it’s a wonderful invitation to
imagine. What could be better than that?
The Great Wave of Tamarind.
By Nadia Aguiar.
Mar. 2017. 384p. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99
(9780312380311). Gr. 5–8.
In Aguiar’s satisfying finale to her Tamarind
trilogy, Penny returns to the magical island
seven years after Secrets of Tamarind (2011).
Now 12, Penny misses the magic and excitement of Tamarind, but mostly she misses how
her family used to be. Maya and Simon have
left home, and Granny Pearl is frail and forgetful. When Granny Pearl tells Penny how
to find Tamarind, Penny steals the rowboat
one night and finds a coastal town where everyone is preparing for the rare Great Wave.
A competition is underway to choose one
person to capture the magical Bloom inside
the Wave, which will stabilize the island,
currently endangered by chaotic portals, but
Penny believes if she catches the Bloom, she
could save her grandmother. Spirited Penny
proves her bravery and heart while learning
to understand and accept change. This volume works equally well as a stand-alone and
a series conclusion (longtime fans will rejoice
at Helix’s return). With heartfelt emotion, an
exotic setting, and a mix of wilderness survival
and fantasy quest, this has something for everyone. —Krista Hutley
Harry Miller’s Run.
By David Almond. Illus. by Salvatore
Feb. 2017. 64p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763689759).
Liam is a runner, practicing for the Junior
Great Northern Run. But he can’t go running
today because he has to help his mother close
down the house of old Harry, who is going
to a nursing home. The neighborhood has
always been fond of Harry, and he’s always
encouraged Liam in his running, and now
the boy finally discovers why. In an extended
flashback, Harry tells the story of how, as a
lad of Liam’s age, he and a couple of mates