MR. PENGUIN AND THE CATASTROPHIC CRUISE

From the Mr. Penguin series , Vol. 3

Feathered fussbudget Mr. Penguin and friends return in a third middle-grade adventure, tossing every nautical trope into a gleeful omnishambles.

The celebrated Mr. Penguin has embarked upon a much-anticipated (and, he hopes, very nonadventurous) luxury cruise with his devoted chums Colin, a kung fu–fighting spider; Edith Hedge, a usefully equipped human; and Gordon, a very peculiar pigeon. Shenanigans inevitably ensue, and soon the quartet are up to their eyeballs in coded messages, possible pirates, steampunk mechanisms, and pantoworthy disguises—not to mention a mysterious island, a sea monster, a trench-coated secret agent, and red herrings galore. It’s all gloriously silly, as the (extremely British) humor runs the gamut from groan-inducing puns to subtle meta-textual drollery; but the twisty roller coaster of a plot doesn’t lack for genuine suspense. The pear-shaped Mr. Penguin—prone to panic and a fish-finger sandwich aficionado—is a delightful protagonist, and each of his companions (yes, even Gordon!) gets an opportunity to save the day. The over-the-top cast is cheerfully varied, with several human characters of color. The copious black, white, and orange illustrations reminiscent of Quentin Blake lend the story a daffy verve, and the short chapters with cliffhanger endings make for a perfect read-aloud. Readers need not be familiar with earlier volumes to appreciate this one.

Ridiculously charming. (Adventure. 6-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-213-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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