While not as nail-biting as the first two books, it’s still a satisfactory denouement.

THE WINNER IS…

From the Next Best Junior Chef series , Vol. 3

Only two contestants remain in the third and final installment of the Next Best Junior Chef series (Lights, Camera, Cook!, 2017, etc.). Who will emerge top toque?

After two tough weeks of competition under scrutiny of the cameras, Rae and Caroline are the final contestants on the show. Or so they think. In a surprise twist, Oliver and Tate, who were eliminated in the previous two rounds, are invited back and given a second shot at the grand prize: a food truck and a guest spot on an award-winning television show to be filmed in Italy! The foursome is happy to be together again, but things are definitely different. The show’s format has changed too. Gone are the Gadget Wall and stars on the blackboard. Standards are higher, and challenges are both more complicated than before and unexpected. And as Oliver declares, there will be no more pacts. Each contestant is out to win! Switching up the challenges helps keep the book from feeling like a retread, though the novelty of the format has worn off, and bringing back Oliver and Tate can’t help but feel like a bit of a cheat. Caroline is the only obvious kid of color, but their adult mentors and judges show some diversity. Backmatter includes tips for combining tastes and textures in cooking and a short vocab list.

While not as nail-biting as the first two books, it’s still a satisfactory denouement. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-99144-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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