A memorable, edge-of-the-seat escapade that will enthrall confirmed fans and newbies alike.

DARKE

From the Septimus Heap series , Vol. 6

The penultimate episode in this well-crafted series pits apprentice wizard Septimus and allies against a relentless tide of Things bent on overwhelming the Magyk that protects the town of Castle and establishing a penumbral Darke Domaine.

Their 14th birthdays become more battles for survival than celebrations for Sep and Princess Jenna when she is captured by the powerful Port Witch Coven. His planned visit to the deadly subterranean Darke Halls takes on special urgency after the Darke finds an opening in the palace and begins pouring out in a deadly tide through the streets. As usual, not only is the cast, particularly the large and tumultuous Heap family, sharply drawn both in the tale and in Zug’s finely detailed character studies at the chapter heads, but the danger and the spellcasting alike seem vividly real and credible. Lightening the load with humorous byplay and tucking in plenty of ghosts, strong-willed characters, deft literary references—a character named Bertie Bott, a house on There And Back Again Row—and a particularly exciting dragon battle, Sage expertly weaves multiple new and continuing plotlines together. An appendix ties up what loose ends it can while leaving the door open for the conclusion.

A memorable, edge-of-the-seat escapade that will enthrall confirmed fans and newbies alike. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-124242-7

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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