Interactive adventure book full of historical facts—though not for the faint of heart.


From the Escape This Book series

Fear of death propels readers to escape the sinking Titanic in this doodle-your-own-adventure book.

Onboard the Titanic, “you” must choose one of three potential characters: a second-class passenger (male, European descent), a crew member (male, race unspecified), and a stowaway (gender and race unspecified), and try to escape the ship’s doomed maiden voyage. As “you” doodle on, punch through, tear, and fold the pages, “you” encounter historical figures such as J. Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line, and Capt. Edward John Smith (both male and white) and learn about the many decisions that condemned the Titanic to failure. Doyle ups the ante in choosing the correct path as death lurks around every corner. Drowning, freezing to death, and drifting off into the cold night are only a few of the tragic endings waiting for those who aren’t expert “escapologists.” However, with the guidance of a helpful gopher (an actual animal) that returns “you” to the last checkpoint, “you” get multiple chances of avoiding demise. With more tragic than happy endings, this book might seem a cavalier take on a catastrophic event to readers who don’t appreciate graphic descriptions of death and dying, punctuated as it is with exercises such as drawing “a bowl of cold and slimy noodles on a passenger’s head” and pretending to tap out “She’ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain!” on Sax’s lineup of partially filled wineglasses. The three difficulty levels show the socio-economic dynamics of maritime travel in 1914, giving fewer chances of survival to stowaways and crew members.

Interactive adventure book full of historical facts—though not for the faint of heart. (Adventure/novelty. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64420-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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