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A safe adventure packed with imagination.

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This debut novel sees six young school friends transported to a magical land and trained to be its protectors.

Twelve-year-old identical twins Jenna and Hallie Dalmore and their friends Jules, Lindsay, Alan, and Thomas live on the same street in Peterborough, Ontario. One day, Jenna and Hallie arrive home from school and find an old friend of their mom’s waiting—Annabel Scott, who hasn’t seen them since they were babies. Annabel is from Pawcombe, a magical realm that can be entered only by way of Root Paths—trees that exist both in Pawcombe and Canada, linking the two places. She says that Jenna, Hallie, and the others are in danger. Unbeknown to them, all six were born in Pawcombe and have a dangerous enemy there. Now that the evil Zyngor has learned of their existence, the Sought Six have no choice but to return home and fight him. Annabel herself was once part of a Sought Six group, as were Jenna and Hallie’s mom and Jules’ uncle. The six friends will be trained well. But can they survive Zyngor’s attacks and beat him to the Sterling Cone—a powerful artifact that in his hands could plunge Pawcombe into ruins? When discussing their friendship group, Jenna and Hallie make reference to the Fantastic Four and the Magnificent Seven. An equally apt comparison would be The Famous Five or others of Enid Blyton’s numerous middle-grade series. Klug upholds the Blyton tradition, crafting a simply told story with plenty of action and exposition and perhaps one or two protagonists more than necessary. Jenna and Hallie are distinct characters (in both speech and personality), as are Alan and Thomas, but Jules and Lindsay don’t offer much in this series opener. The adults in the tale are memorable and always sufficiently close at hand that young readers won’t be taken too far from their comfort zone. The plot moves quickly, its twists not so subtly foreshadowed. Klug’s prose may not be the most polished, but for most readers that won’t matter. Like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, the sparkle here comes from an abundance of magical ideas. Knock four times—Pawcombe awaits.

A safe adventure packed with imagination.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-913206-01-7

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Emmie Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

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

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. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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