A fast-paced duology closer full of STEM adventures.


From the Jinxed series , Vol. 2

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. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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


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 voyage both singular and universal, marked by sharply felt risks and rewards and deep waters beneath.


A solitary young traveler paddles through an archipelago of natural, often dangerous, wonders, learning as he goes.

Though the metaphorical layer lies barely beneath the surface in this short novel, Paulsen’s spare prose and legendary knowledge of the challenges and techniques of wilderness survival make the journey through a landscape that evokes historical Scandinavia compelling reading. Sole survivor—and that just barely—of the gruesomely depicted cholera that sweeps through his camp, 12-year-old Leif comes away with a dugout canoe, a few basic outdoor skills, and the command from a dying, respected elder to head north. Subsisting largely on blackberries and salmon, he travels a winding route through fjords and a seemingly endless string of islets and inlets where he finds both danger and delight in searching for food and shelter, literally coming face to face with bears and whales, struggling to survive a deadly tidal whirlpool, and coming to understand the importance of seeing and learning from the ways and rhythms of “this place and all places that will come to me.” Calling on memories, Paulsen writes in an autobiographical afterword of his Norwegian immigrant grandmother’s tales. References to Odin and whalers give the setting a timelessly folkloric feeling. Final art not seen.

A voyage both singular and universal, marked by sharply felt risks and rewards and deep waters beneath. (Historical adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-31420-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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