Characters and adventures are here, as expected, but the effort to wrap it all up takes some of the wind out of this...

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THE SEA OF THE DEAD

From the Chronicles of the Black Tulip series , Vol. 3

In the third installment of the Chronicles of the Black Tulip, Bren and his crew depart the landlocked Asian continent for the Arctic Ocean; and the adventure continues.

Following the events in The Dragon’s Gate (2016) and having lost his best friend, 14-year-old Bren wants nothing more than to go home. Together with Eirishman Sean, his sole remaining companion, he journeys overland from China to India seeking passage back to Britannia. But Bren can’t seem to evade adventure. When they are chased by a band of armed monks, Bren realizes he has unwittingly come into possession of a valuable map disguised as a religious artifact. Bren then falls in with Shveta, a mysterious Indian aristocrat on a quest to locate the Lost Words of Magic, an ancient power that will help her “remake the world.” Bren concludes that his best chance for making it home alive is to join her on a perilous journey to the North Pole. As expected, the hazards keep coming, the stakes keep escalating. Joined by companions old and new, Bren finds himself eating polar-bear organs, battling half-human/half-animal monsters, and traveling beneath the ice in an onderzeeer. Through it all, the outing delivers nail-biting adventure that is pure Wolverton in a dizzying tour of this alternate Asia, but as the final chapter in the story, it leaves readers wanting.

Characters and adventures are here, as expected, but the effort to wrap it all up takes some of the wind out of this trilogy’s sails. (Historical fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-222196-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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