Fast-paced and entertaining, this fine trilogy opener will keep both fantasy and historical-fiction buffs turning the pages.

READ REVIEW

THE VANISHING ISLAND

From the Chronicles of the Black Tulip series , Vol. 1

In the first book of Wolverton's fantasy trilogy, the hero embarks on a gripping high-seas adventure packed with action, magic, and folklore spanning East and West.

It’s the Age of Discovery, and 12-year-old Bren Owen is yearning for adventure. Unfortunately, he’s trapped in the city of his birth on the Britannia coast by the destiny his father has deemed for him: that Bren follow in his footsteps as a mapmaker. Bren’s attempts to stow away on ships bound for exotic lands are continuously foiled until a dying man gifts him with a talisman called a paiza that becomes his bargaining chip. Encoded with a secret map to the site of Marco Polo’s lost treasure, the paiza is just what Adm. Bowman, master of the Albatross, wants and hence becomes Bren’s ticket aboard the flagship of the Dutch Bicycle and Tulip Co. Onboard, Bren meets a Chinese girl named Mouse with the power to talk with animals, and together they crack the code and overcome unrelenting obstacles. After surviving a pirate attack, a mutiny, and, finally, being cast overboard, they find their way to an island long vanished from any map only to realize that their journey doesn’t end there. Wolverton deftly draws parallels between Western astrology and Chinese mythology and cleverly weaves fiction and legend into history.

Fast-paced and entertaining, this fine trilogy opener will keep both fantasy and historical-fiction buffs turning the pages. (maps) (Historical fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-222190-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more