Better in its parts than its whole—but even second-drawer Jinks tops the general run.

THE LAST BOGLER

From the How To Catch a Bogle series , Vol. 3

Weary “Go-Devil Man” Alfred Bunce and his uncertain apprentice, Ned, face a seemingly overwhelming plague of child-eating bogles in this busy trilogy closer.

In what amounts to a wrap-up volume livened by gross bits, Jinks sends her bogle hunters—with help from the ad hoc Committee for the Regulation of Subterranean Anomalies—into Victorian London’s dark nooks and noisome sewers after a series of shadowy menaces. She also sets ex-apprentices Birdie and Jem on to careers in the theater, trots in a country witch to explain how to mass-produce bogle-killing magical spears, consigns vicious butcher/crime lord Salty Jack to a suitably brutal fate, and ties off various other loose ends. Though en masse the darksome creatures seem less hideously menacing than the rare and terrifying haunts of previous volumes, here their toothy, tentacled bodies do slither chillingly enough into view and explode with satisfying violence, “like a gigantic pimple,” when speared. (One particularly memorable battle takes place in a privy.) Set pieces notwithstanding, though, the climax turns to more of an anticlimax as the growing crisis is averted via an authorial rationale that even younger readers may find hard to buy. An epilogue leaves the majors married or nearly married and Bunce in happy retirement.

Better in its parts than its whole—but even second-drawer Jinks tops the general run. (map, glossary of slang) (Historical fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-08696-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

ALMOST SUPER

Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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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