From the Shivers! series , Vol. 1

While the premise is initially hard to accept given its pure ridiculousness, fans of Captain Underpants and the Wimpy Kid...

Get ready for a breathlessly paced pirate adventure starring Shivers, who is terrified of just about everything.

The fearful 11-year-old, the youngest in his family of pirates, begins the story with an overreaction to his beeping alarm clock. The liberal use of capitalized dialogue (“LOAD THE CANNONS! SWAB THE POOP DECK!”) makes it clear that Shivers is easily freaked out. When a carrier pigeon delivers a plea for help from his parents, he goes to the police station for some help. Good thing spunky Margo, two years his junior and the police chief’s daughter, is craving some true adventure. The unlikely duo sets sail and encounters colorful characters. Here the authors’ language often impresses with its rich and humorous descriptions: “In a deep voice that sounded like pancake syrup dripping down a jagged rock, he bellowed, ‘…I am Captain Pokes-You-in-the-Eye!’ ” Man-eating sharks, a giant squid and a villain with a passion for mustard are all part of the over-the-top journey. Cartoonish illustrations in black and white by Holden further emphasize the crazy antics that rapidly move the characters on until their heroic climb of the Statue of Liberty and one final, colossal panic attack that brings the slapstick story to a tidy conclusion.

While the premise is initially hard to accept given its pure ridiculousness, fans of Captain Underpants and the Wimpy Kid may find Shivers more hilarious than overwrought. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231387-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014


Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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