A fiery climax and a hard choice set Marrill on course for further adventures on the Pirate Stream. Avast! (Fantasy. 10-13)

CITY OF THIRST

From the Map to Everywhere series , Vol. 2

On a second voyage upon the ocean of chaos that spans time and space, Marigold “Marrill” Aesterwest faces evil wizards and a mad king—not to mention friendly, giant bugs and snails, a sideways island, and a worlds-destroying Iron Tide.

Astounded but doughty babysitter Remy in tow, Marrill rides the Pirate Stream that rises once again in a derelict Arizona parking lot to happy reunions aboard the privateer Enterprising Kraken with friends from The Map to Everywhere (2014). Driven by (what else?) a cryptic but ominous prophecy, the ensuing quest takes the intrepid crew to a remote archipelago where gravity is strange, through a huge whirlpool to a continually sinking vertical city, and then beyond to perpetually burning lands where schemes of the boundlessly ambitious King of Salt and Sand have come perilously close to fruition. The setting and the large supporting cast are of the “anything goes” sort, and again the authors have concocted both with an adroit mixture of humor and wonder. At the tale’s core, however, are a series of internal and external struggles with conflicting hearts’ desires, as both allies and adversaries close in on a fantastically dangerous wizardly device that is primed to grant a wish. There are also, just to complicate decisions and emotional states further, issues of trust, friendship, sacrifice, and oh yes, saving our world and all the rest.

A fiery climax and a hard choice set Marrill on course for further adventures on the Pirate Stream. Avast! (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-24084-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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The series keeps cruising along…though iffy casting may be an early sign that it’s losing steam.

SPY SCHOOL AT SEA

From the Spy School series , Vol. 9

In a new caper, the Spy School team thwarts a fiendish scheme on the high seas.

A fresh chance to catch up to world-class gourmand and perennial foe Murray Hill plants dogged CIA junior agent Ben Ripley and associates—including markedly more competent classmate Erica Hale and her equally able mom, Catherine—aboard the Emperor of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, for a fresh round of ridiculously destructive chases, startling twists, and repeated attempts on the hapless young spy’s life that are somehow always averted in the nick of time. Along with adding a grandfatherly, eco-conscious Costa Rican drug lord to the supporting cast, Gibbs flirts with stereotypes by trotting in, among the few characters who don’t at least present as White, a Chinese teen given to muddling her English idioms, her bling-loving mother, and a chipper shipboard event manager of Australian Indigenous descent. Still, the revved-up plot will leave readers as breathless as Ben is in the wake of a final, unexpected turn in his relationship with Erica. Finally, finally nabbing the slobby supervillain (at least for now) as well as saving the lives of hundreds of oblivious, hard-partying onboard tourists must count for something.

The series keeps cruising along…though iffy casting may be an early sign that it’s losing steam. (Thriller. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7943-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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