A solid series starter for tinkerers and adventurers alike.

JINXED

Even robot cats have a mind of their own.

All 12-year-old Canadian Lacey Chu’s ever wanted was to become a companioneer like her idol, Monica Chan, co-founder of the largest tech firm in North America, Moncha Corp., and mastermind behind the baku. Bakus, “robotic pets with all the features of a smartphone,” revolutionized society and how people interact with technology. As a companioneer, Lacey could work on bakus: designing, innovating, and building. When she receives a grant rejection from Profectus Academy of Science and Technology, a school that guarantees employment at Moncha Corp., she’s devastated. A happenstance salvaging of a mangled cat baku might just change the game. Suddenly, Lacey’s got an in with Profectus and is one step closer to her dream. Jinx, however, is not quite like the other bakus—he’s a wild cat that does things without commands. Together with Jinx, Lacey will have to navigate competitive classmates and unsettling corporate secrets. McCulloch effectively strikes a balance between worldbuilding and action. High-stakes baku battles demonstrate the emotional bond between (robotic) pet and owner. Readers will also connect to the relationships the Asian girl forges with her diverse classmates, including a rivalry with Carter (a white boy who’s the son of Moncha’s other co-founder, Eric Smith), a burgeoning crush on student Tobias, who’s black, and evolving friendships new and old. While some mysteries are solved, a cliffhanger ending raises even more for the next installment.

A solid series starter for tinkerers and adventurers alike. (Science fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8374-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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