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From the Jinxed series , Vol. 2

A fast-paced duology closer full of STEM adventures.

When a well-loved corporation has less-than-pleasant plans, it is up to Lacey Chu and her classmates to stop them.

One month after the events of Jinxed (2019), Lacey wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how she got there. Everything that came after running after her beloved robot pet, Jinx, a black cat baku, is vague. As Lacey begins to piece together her memories and recall the secrets she uncovered, a race begins to rescue Moncha Corp’s absent CEO, Monica Chan, and stop her co-founder, Eric Smith. Through his Team Happiness project, Eric plans to use the technology developed by Moncha Corp—aided by its ubiquity—for his own evil, unscrupulous ends. While there are fewer flashy baku moments than in the previous installment, McCulloch takes readers deeper into her baku-filled world as Lacey and her friends infiltrate and investigate the Canadian tech giant. Class disparity and social structures are explored, as are personal freedom and the technological ethics of privacy and data mining. Characters big and small return, and their arcs are satisfyingly—if a bit neatly—tied up. Especially welcome is the joining of forces between Lacey’s Profectus Academy crew and her childhood friend Zora. The diverse team’s determination and resourcefulness mesh with and support Lacey’s resilience and drive.

A fast-paced duology closer full of STEM adventures. (Science fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8377-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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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

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

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. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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