An absolute must for fans, of course; but even readers who’ve never heard of Heathcliff will be captivated from the first...

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THE GLASS TOWN GAME

In a middle-grade fantasy reminiscent of beloved tales from Edward Eager and Pamela Dean, the imaginary realms of the Brontë juvenilia come to wondrous life.

“Once, four children called Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell lived all together in a village called Haworth”—but the never-surnamed protagonists don’t remain in their Yorkshire moors for long. Instead of escorting the two oldest girls to their dreaded School, the siblings are whisked off to Glass Town, where, as Charlotte dryly observes, “we’re only in an insane, upside-down world populated by our toys, our stories, and Napoleon riding on a giant chicken on fire.” Valente seizes this irresistible premise and careens off merrily, in gorgeous, coruscating prose spangled with groanworthy puns, extravagant metaphors, whimsical imagery, literary nods, and historical references. Beyond the sly allusions, sufficient to delight the most devoted Brontë-phile, it is the vivid, achingly real, personalities—brilliant, bossy Charlotte; wild, passionate Emily; gentle, perceptive Anne; and bullying, insecure Branwell—that compel attention. Unfolding against a background of loss and fear, their madcap fairy-tale adventures deepen into a heartbreaking keen of brutality and grief, at the last transposing into an exhilarating, bittersweet paean to identity, agency, and (inevitably) the power of storytelling. (Illustrations not seen.)

An absolute must for fans, of course; but even readers who’ve never heard of Heathcliff will be captivated from the first page to the last. (Fantasy. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7696-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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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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