From the Winterborne series , Vol. 1

An entertaining adventure with villains, heroes, and tantalizing mysteries galore.

Ten years ago, Gabriel Winterborne, dramatically orphaned in childhood and heir to a vast fortune, mysteriously vanished; the five parentless children now living at Winterborne House may hold keys to his disappearance.

After accidentally setting a museum exhibit on fire, April, foundling, foster child, and group-home veteran, is rescued and hospitalized. She accepts an invitation from Isabella “Izzy” Nelson, Winterborne Foundation director, to live at Winterborne House—for now. (April’s mother had left a note—plus an ornate key—with infant April, promising to return for her.) Fellow child recruits include Violet, a timid artist; Tim, Violet’s foster brother and protector; and, already ensconced in the enormous mansion poised at cliff’s edge above the ocean, Sadie, an imaginative inventor; and Colin, a former Londoner with street smarts. All are under the care of Smithers, the Winterborne butler, and Izzy. Living in a smaller mansion nearby is Evert Winterborne, Gabriel’s uncle, who’s offered a reward for news of Gabriel. On a dark and stormy night, the girls awaken to a knife-wielding presence who steals April’s key. Mysteries mount rapidly: Who, or what, is the Phantom that so terrifies Violet? What caused Izzy’s antipathy to Gabriel? Among this likable bunch (race varied but unspecified, though April presents white on the cover), deadpan April’s a standout. If the corkscrew plot’s occasionally far-fetched, it’s fast moving and surprise-filled, guaranteed to have readers racing on to the next deliciously gothic complication.

An entertaining adventure with villains, heroes, and tantalizing mysteries galore. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-00319-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

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 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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