A pre-fab grab at pre-Pern preteens.

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RISE OF THE DRAGONS

The unsuspecting world is threatened by deadly dragons and dragon riders from a parallel world in this series opener.

Leading off a projected multiauthor series attached to a game with online and table-top versions, Sage phones in an initial episode that reads like Anne McCaffrey fanfic interwoven with a sketchy subplot. Sad and lonely 11-year-old Londoner Sirin Sharma recalls old tales learned from her dying mother of how the peaceable dragons who once flew Earth’s skies turned to evil Raptors and were exiled. Meanwhile, the fire-breathing descendants of said exiles and their telepathically Locked riders, all of whom have been at war for so long that their world is devastated, discover that a silver dragon—the only hue that can travel between universes—has been hatched for the first time in ages. Said hatchling, Lysander, and orphaned shepherd lad Joss Moran, who finds and Locks with him, are captured, discover unexpected allies winged and otherwise, have an extended (and nonfatal) aerial battle, then escape to this world just in time to save Sirin from bullying girls. The human cast, all except possibly Central Asian Sirin evidently white, has no agency in the tale or the entire scenario aside from providing the dragons with easy food (one way or another), and with no evident sign that the larger story has a direction, the author leaves everything, and everyone, up in the air.

A pre-fab grab at pre-Pern preteens. (game rules, URL, and detachable trading cards not seen) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-86496-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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