A pleasantly gothic pleaser for fans of Unfortunate Events.

GRIMSTONES

In nine chatty letters, young Martha Grimstone introduces her peculiar family, describes the creation and hatching of three-legged little brother Crumpet, and fervently urges readers to write back.

This epistolary narrative has been spun off from a puppet performance and comes with inset photos of Tim Burton–style papier-mâché puppets in elaborately crafted antique settings and animations that range from a circling ring of quail to words that drop to the bottom of the page with a crash. There are also several full-screen interludes in which Martha—moving and gesturing like a marionette—beckons eerily to viewers, dumps potion ingredients into a pot or has a tap-activated exchange with her alchemist grandfather Elcho. She chattily shares hopes and dreams (“You never know, one day I could be the Lady of the Strongest Intestines in the Whole World”) as well as a string of domestic disasters or oddball incidents. In doing so, she repeatedly invites her readers to respond. Responses might in fact be mandatory; in one setting, each letter after the first is locked until the day after an answering letter is composed on a preformatted "Write Back" page. This can be toggled so that Martha writes regardless of readers' correspondence habits. There is no audio narration, but the app is supplied with sound effects and an optional background piano track.

A pleasantly gothic pleaser for fans of Unfortunate Events. (series website) (iPad storybook app. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: X Asphyxia

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

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 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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