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Review: The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton III

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan
By Maxwell Eaton III

Alfred A. Knopf (Random House)

ISBN: 9780375864476
Grades 2-4
On Shelves January 10, 2012

Find it at:

Schuler Books | Your Library

They were nowhere, they suddenly, they’re everywhere. The rise of graphic novels for younger readers is one of the most noteworthy storylines of the aughts. And things only seem to be picking up this decade. Random House has been a leader in this arena, with certified hits Babymouse and Lunch Lady drawing massive circulations. Their latest entry into this field, The Flying Beaver Brothers, is another winner. Full of brisk storytelling and quirky humor, you best get in at the ground floor.

Ace and Bub enjoy their Beaver Island home. Ace can enjoy extreme sports to his heart’s content, while Bub can take naps at his leisure. But things get interesting when a stolen surf board leads to the discovery of a secret underwater invention. What exactly are the penguins up to? Our heroes work to solve the mystery, all the while avoiding bully Bruce and his plans to sabotage the big surf competition.

Maxwell Eaton’s efficiency and sense of pacing are impressive. The plot moves at a clip that makes it difficult to put down. Here’s a test – give this book to your third-grader, and then try to get him to do something – anything – else. My money’s on “he’s not budging”.

Humor is also used effectively. A running joke about whether the birds are puffins or penguins will have kids laughing at unexpected moments.

The pen and ink artwork and one-color palette is about as basic as illustrations get. But this simplicity also allows Eaton to tell the story distraction-free. While the layout is uncomplicated, the panel sizes vary, allowing for some interesting perspectives.

Satisfying storytelling and humor in one well-executed package, The Flying Beaver Brothers is a graphic novel series that will likely fly off shelves.

Review copy from the publisher.

Read a sample of this book:

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. The advanced reader’s copy made its way around my school. The kids are wild about this series. They are looking forward to book 3.

  2. They’re funny. Kids will love them. I loved the jokes, both verbal and visual. But they’re no match for Babymouse and the Lunch Lady. Not yet, anyway.

  3. Just got this in the Children’s Lit office yesterday but haven’t had a chance to look at it yet. I definitely will now – thought I suspect that I’ll have to let my 2nd grader read it first.

    • It’s a lot of fun. Goofy but not dumb – I can see your second grader taking to it pretty quickly.