If you haven’t caught one of the titles in this middle grade series, have no worries as they each read well on their own. First up in 2016 were THE MYSTERIOUS ABDUCTIONS followed by THE OMINOUS EYE. Last year came the third adventure with THE FALLEN STAR.
The stories feature a band of curious animals known as the Nocturnal Brigade. There’s Dawn, a graceful fox with quiet leadership qualities; Tobin, a gentle-souled pangolin (in real life these are a rare scale covered mammal and sadly one of the most hunted species); Bismark takes up the final spot of the trio. He’s a sugar glider who has a somewhat inflated ego and is not shy about letting us know why.
Out this week is the fourth title: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM. There’s a mysterious drought causing panic and sickness in the animal world. The Nocturnal Brigade take off to find the reason why the water is disappearing. They soon come face to face with some nasty creatures led by a chameleon. The climatic ending has them in an all out battle to regain what should be shared and they find the reasons for the many strange happenings.
Full color illustrations are scattered throughout and support the story well. You’ll be guessing the entire way as to what natural phenomenon must be triggering the events. Perfect as read-aloud, the twenty-four chapters zip by and will grab your attention at every turn. This fun series focuses on adventure but you’ll also come out respecting and understanding the animal kingdom even more.
In the words of Bismark… “We shall be bold in adventure! We shall be brave in challenge! The Nocturnal Brigade to the rescue!”
PUBLICATION DATE: 2018 PAGE COUNT: 208
THE OFFICIAL WORD ON THE PLOT: In The Nocturnals: The Hidden Kingdom, animals in the valley start to trip on the crumbling ground beneath them, water disappears, and disembodied voices are heard. Everyone assumes the forest is under an evil spell. However, it’s a group of veiled creatures—a chameleon, stick bugs, leaf bugs, and other assorted camouflaged insects—that are upset because they want the valley’s recognition for their hard work in preventing a drought. The Nocturnal Brigade—Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark—solve this mystery and unites the forest.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM
- You’ll match the personalities of the animals to either yourself or friends. They make a good parallel to the feelings and emotions coming out in kids these days.
- The story has the protagonist and antagonist eventually trying to understand each others motives. It’s a nice conclusion without a much more violent outcome.
- Readers will be motivated to learn more about these three species with possible extensions to science, language arts, and foreign languages.
- A balance of text and pictures—perfect for the reluctant reader and for reading out loud.
- Even if you aren’t a big fan of talking animal stories, this one makes you feel like you’re reading a story about a group of your own friends.
“Mon dieu!” Bismark cried, hopping up and down on his lily pad. “It’s a tongue-of-war!”
AUTHOR QUOTE (From an interview at Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls):
Bullying is a big part of children’s lives, and animal protagonists are a big part of children’s literature. So combining the two was quite natural. I had to make sure the animal characters experience the same emotions that kids experience with bullies, and most importantly, do so in an authentic way.
You can also visit the Nocturnals’ website for some fantastic resources to help support the series both in the classroom and at home.
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.