An immersive read for lovers of historical fiction.

THE ORACLE OF AVARIS

From the Secrets of the Sands series , Vol. 3

In this conclusion to the Secrets of the Sands trilogy, Sesha and fellow scribes Paser and Reb accompany Pepi to the Hyksos capital of Averis.

Their goal is to see the ailing king, who is Pepi’s uncle, and prevent war with Thebes. Yanassi, the king’s son and presumed heir to the throne, and his bride-to-be, Theban Princess Merat, are already attending upon dying King Khyan. As they sail to Averis, Pepi shares a prophecy likely unknown to Yanassi: The next Hyksos ruler will come from the line of the physician, ushering in 40 years of peace and prosperity. Pepi believes it refers to Sesha, daughter of Thebes’ royal physician, who’s been posing as his betrothed. Sesha is uncertain—Pepi’s her mentor and friend; she has no desire to marry him but believes Pepi might in fact be the king’s son. She’s confused when the king insists that he isn’t. Could the prophecies mean that Ky, Sesha’s beloved brother and a Theban heir, will inherit the throne of Hyksos? Seeking clarification, the scribes undertake a dangerous journey to the oracle only to hear her prophesy something shocking and unexpected. Sesha excepted, characters remain somewhat underdeveloped, and the interpretation of prophecies and political strategizing slow the pace. Fortunately, Sevigny excels at worldbuilding, layering the minutiae of daily life in convincing detail—in her hands, ancient Egypt, perennially fascinating, becomes a character in its own right.

An immersive read for lovers of historical fiction. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4597-4435-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dundurn

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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