A satisfying adventure for ancient Egypt’s many fans.

THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN

From the Secrets of the Sands series , Vol. 1

In this series opener set in ancient Egypt, a girl seeks a missing scroll she believes may help save her brother’s life and explain the fire that killed their parents.

Since the siblings escaped the tragedy, 13-year-old Sesha has been charming a cobra to divert shop owners while younger brother Ky steals food. When they are caught and taken to the pharaoh’s palace, they’re recognized as the children of the late Chief Physician, and Sesha is charged with the task of finding a scroll lost ever since the fire. Uncertain whom to trust, Sesha is guarded in her search. Already literate and medically knowledgeable, she is accepted as a medical scribe trainee. Befriended by Princess Merat, she acquires allies among her fellow trainees and the handmaidens she’s billeted with, who appreciate her medical skill. But her searches lead nowhere; meanwhile, time is running out for Ky who urgently needs the surgery the scroll describes. Pharaoh and his advisers are worried, too: The harvest is failing, and with the Hyksos invaders established in the north, Thebes is threatened. After an awkward opening, the story slowly comes to life, gaining momentum as the plot thickens, the circle of suspects, allies, and enemies widens, and Sesha’s desperate search expands to the necropolis, a city of massive tombs. Vivid, deftly integrated historical detail about this tumultuous, fascinating era helps compensate for the somewhat stock characters.

A satisfying adventure for ancient Egypt’s many fans. (author's note) (Historical adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4597-4429-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dundurn

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

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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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