Full measures of swordplay and sorcery, along with a healthy grain or two of salt added to keep things from getting overly...

SEEDS OF REBELLION

From the Beyonders series , Vol. 2

Plenty of hard-fought skirmishes and an entertainingly diverse supporting cast keep this quest fantasy’s middle volume on the right track.

Finding his way back to Lyrian from this world, hero-in-training Jason rejoins fellow “Beyonder” Rachel and several Lyrian allies in a nascent rebellion against evil emperor/wizard Maldor. With imperial troops constantly in hot pursuit, the company survives attacks from giant swamp monsters, blood-craving zombies, plant people and others, as well as encounters with deadly natural hazards, to gather special weapons and allies, reluctant or otherwise. Though surmounting several individual challenges, Jason is largely along for the ride here, but others pick up the slack—particularly Rachel, struggling to control rapidly developing magical talents; Ferrin, a “displacer” with suspect loyalties who can detach while continuing to use hands, eyes or any other part of himself; and Aram, a pipsqueak by day but a giant warrior at night. The author threads glib banter (“Everybody should get to clobber a princess at least once”) and quirky twists into his already-speedy plot to ensure that there’s never a dull moment. He brings the episode to a close with an ominous but refreshingly lucid prophecy that sends cast members off on separate missions to set up the closer’s climactic confrontation.

Full measures of swordplay and sorcery, along with a healthy grain or two of salt added to keep things from getting overly earnest. (Quest fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9794-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

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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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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