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


From the TURBO Racers series , Vol. 1

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. 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.


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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From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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