The book is a perfectly competent adventure story. It’s hard to go wrong with Vikings. But if you asked a classroom full of...

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DIVIDE AND CONQUER

From the Infinity Ring series , Vol. 2

Vikings and time machines, together again.

“History is broken,” a character said, back in the first Infinity Ring title (A Mutiny in Time, 2012). He might have said that spelling is broken. The main characters in the series are named Riq, Sera and Dak, and they work with the Hystorians to fix the timeline. Like all good fantasy series, these books come with a vocabulary list. The time travelers have to look out for the Breaks, the Remnants and the SQ. Readers who skipped the first book may never make sense of the jargon, but they really need to know only one fact: The SQ is an evil organization. It wants to take over the world. In fact, it wants to have taken over the world millennia ago. Now, in Volume 2, the best way for our heroes to defeat the SQ is to join a Viking war. They jump into the fight without being certain they’re on the right side. This is typical of the logic in the book, and readers may enjoy the story just because it makes them feel smarter than the main characters.

The book is a perfectly competent adventure story. It’s hard to go wrong with Vikings. But if you asked a classroom full of students to write about a Viking and a time machine, most of them would come up with something more inventive. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-38697-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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Don’t miss this brave hero as she confronts anti-immigrant hatred in a timely historical novel.

THREE KEYS

From the Front Desk series

Sixth grader Mia Tang returns to battle racism in this thrilling sequel to the Asian/Pacific American Award–winning Front Desk (2018).

The Tangs, who emigrated from China when Mia was little, are now the proud owners of the Calivista Motel. Mia works the front desk along with her friends Lupe Garcia, who is Mexican, and Jason Yao, who is Chinese. Her world quickly becomes clouded by the upcoming election, in which California’s Prop 187, which would ban undocumented immigrants from access to health care and public schooling, is on the ballot. The author’s note highlights personal experiences with racism and provides additional information on this historic vote. The storyline expertly weaves together the progress and setbacks Mia experiences as her family continues to work, seemingly endlessly on the edge of poverty. Lupe reveals that her family is undocumented, creating a portrait of fear as her father is jailed. The impending vote has significant consequences for all immigrants, not just the Garcias, as racial threats increase. With the help of a cast of strong supporting characters, Mia bravely uses her voice and her pen to change opinions—with family, friends, teachers, and even voters. The lessons she learns helping her friends become the key to addressing racism, as one wise friend advises: “You gotta listen, you gotta care, and most importantly, you gotta keep trying.”

Don’t miss this brave hero as she confronts anti-immigrant hatred in a timely historical novel.   (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59138-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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