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From the TURBO Racers series , Vol. 1

With flash, spectacle, and tough character choices, an all-around, full-throttle read.

A 12-year-old gets a shot at glory in a high-tech, motorized extreme triathlon—but everything has its price.

When not tinkering with mechanical engineering projects, Mace Blazer lights up the leaderboards in TURBO arcade simulations. In TURBO races, vehicles morph among land, sea, and sky forms for various legs of the complicated, wild races. After finding out about a traveling exhibit with a restored, legendary, crashed-too-soon first-generation trimorpher called Event Horizon—just in time to miss it—Mace takes a risk to see the craft in person. The unintended consequences (which include a police chase) lead Mace to Event Horizon’s legendary, mysterious pilot, Quasar, who invites him and three other top simulation performers for a summer of training. Quasar promises entrance in the Gauntlet Prix to the best of them. Coloradan Mace (default white and fluent in ASL due to growing up with Deaf parents) is joined by Japanese-American Aya, Dex from the Dominican Republic, and white Norwegian Henryk. They must compete against one another in the face of elimination and dismissal as the legendary racer teaches them to do anything to win. Mace must decide if he should do it Quasar’s way or play it honest—either alternative holds heavy consequences—and discovers that TURBO’s future depends on his decisions. Intense, impeccably paced, bonkers-awesome international race sequences provide clarity without sacrificing tension or becoming repetitive—and, more importantly, compensate for the formulaic setup.

With flash, spectacle, and tough character choices, an all-around, full-throttle read. (Science fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-274103-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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