Despite a sense of playacting, this is a gently adventurous and luxuriously detailed romp.

PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE HOURGLASS

A princess requests and receives a country for her 13th birthday.

With her very own country, Princess Juniper will be able to interact with others in informal, casual ways—kind of. She gathers kids to journey to her “brand-new kingdom,” where she’ll be queen and they’ll be her subjects. But instead of their scheduled departure, the kids are rushed off the palace grounds at night, hearing distant battle sounds and directed by the king to a place on no map. The hidden basin in the mountains is idyllic, with a waterfall, fruit trees, and bedrooms carved in the rock. Juniper loses her rule—for withholding information about the war back at home—and mounts an exciting scheme to recover it. However, this text isn’t anti-royalist: the other kids are her “friends” and “family” but still her “subjects”; and if a ruler’s heart is in the right place, it’s fine to demand heaps of work (and work itself is romanticized). Luxuries (“silks and scarves and paints and powders”) and sumptuous meals (“crispy cheese sticks”; “fresh sage griddle cakes topped with sweet butter and honey syrup”) evoke stories from a bygone era. Unfortunately, matching that old-fashioned sensibility is a “notoriously secretive tribe” of “obscure origin and uncertain habitation” and “wildness”—a stereotypical, Romany-esque portrayal regrettably poised for a larger role in the sequel.

Despite a sense of playacting, this is a gently adventurous and luxuriously detailed romp. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17151-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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