Richly complex and nourishing.

BLUEBERRY PANCAKES FOREVER

From the Tuesday McGillycuddy series , Vol. 3

The third book in the Finding Serendipity series finds Tuesday McGillycuddy back in the fictional world of Vivienne Small, but this time Tuesday’s adversary is a jealous character of her mother’s own imagination.

Tuesday and her mother, Sarah (aka Serendipity Smith, the world-famous author of the Vivienne Small series), are struggling with depression, brought on by the death a year earlier of Denis McGillycuddy, husband of Sarah and father of Tuesday. Within the world of Vivienne Small, Serendipity’s depression has both caused an earthquake and continual winter and unleashed Loddon—a character imagined by the child Serendipity. Loddon, jealous of Vivienne, captures her and forces her to summon Serendipity, but it is Tuesday who arrives by mistake. What follows is both an adventure story as Tuesday fights for her life (with Baxterr, the winged dog, and Tuesday’s godmother, Colette Baden-Baden, searching for her) and a story of healing as Serendipity faces fears begotten in a lonely childhood. Writing duo Banks (adult authors Heather Rose and Danielle Wood) weaves these narratives together with admirable skill and compassion, bringing a sophistication to this story of the writing life, including wonderful writing metaphors, such as “Other [staircases] stopped…short…as if you were simply meant to jump.” While the themes of depression and emotional healing may pass over some readers, others will doubtless feel seen and validated. Lewis’ spot illustrations show the human characters as white.

Richly complex and nourishing. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-156-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories.

FINAL SEASON

A star 12-year-old quarterback has a championship to win, a developing family tragedy to cope with, and a life-changing decision to make.

Barely disguising the autobiographical elements contained here in the wake of his own diagnosis of ALS, former Atlanta Falcons player Green places his protagonist, Ben Redd, in a football family and on an upstate New York team coached by his dad and two older brothers—all former gridiron stars themselves. Ben’s anticipation as he looks forward to a season that will be capped by a game against archrival Penn Yan battles with his terror as he watches his father’s NFL injuries come home to roost in slurred speech, loss of physical coordination, and, eventually, a frantic trip to the hospital for an emergency tracheotomy. But as Ben’s parents, both iron willed, clash over whether he should be allowed to follow the family career path (and one of his brothers even announces that none of his kids will ever play), the sport’s allure comes through in a series of exciting clashes, with Ben and wonderfully hard-nosed new teammate, Thea Jean, leading the on-field heroics on the way to a last-yard, smash-mouth finale that leaves him dazed and exultant, with a broken finger, a probable concussion…and a choice of futures. Though the cast is mostly male and mostly White, between them, Thea and Ben’s mom add strong female representation.

An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-248595-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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