THE DRAGON OF NEVER-WAS

Downer should have left her likable 12-year-old protagonist alone rather than dragging her through this mediocre sequel. Having met wizards and dragons last summer, Theodora has difficulty fitting back into regular life. When her father’s called to a tiny Scottish island to identify a mysterious scale, Theodora goes along. Did the scale fall off a dragon? Who’s the creepy vagabond? Who’s evil? A seephole threatens to open and suck the island into the unpleasant realm of Never-Was. Theodora fulfills her destiny by claiming magical powers inherited from her long-dead mother and riding a dragon into Never-Was. Characters are sparkly and appealing, the plot pleasing. However, wizards’ spells are facile, as are Theodora’s achievements (training a biddable fire; saving the island). Never-Was is too minimally explored, while many things are unnecessarily spelled out. Harmless, but not especially gripping. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-689-85571-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2006

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE WRATH OF THE WICKED WEDGIE WOMAN

Trying to salvage failing grades, George and Harold use their handy 3-D Hypno Ring on termagant teacher Ms. Ribble—and succeed only in creating a supervillain with a medusa-like ’do and a yen to conquer the world with wedgie power. Using a pair of robot sidekicks and plenty of spray starch, she even overcomes Captain Underpants. Is it curtains (or rather, wedgies) for all of us? Can the redoubtable fourth graders rescue the Waistband Warrior (a.k.a. Principal Krupp) and find a way to save the day? Well, duh. Not, of course, without an epic battle waged in low-budget Flip-O-Rama, plus no fewer than three homemade comics, including an “Origin of Captain Underpants” in which we learn that his home planet of Underpantyworld was destroyed by the . . . wait for it . . . “Starch Ship Enterprize.” As in the previous four episodes, neither the pace nor the funky humor (“Diapers and toilets and poop . . . oh my!”) lets up for a moment. Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of staleness. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-04999-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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