A dark action-adventure-fantasy with surprising heart.

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BATTLE OF THE BEASTS

From the House of Secrets series , Vol. 2

House of Secrets’ (2013) happy ending gives way to new problems for the Walker children, both in reality and in writer-wizard Denver Kristoff’s pulpy genre-book worlds.

While the Walkers appear to be living large with the $10,000,000 wished for by Eleanor at the end of their last adventure, their new life is neither happy nor stable. Brendan struggles to fit in at his new elite private school. Cordelia fits in fine—thrives even—but experiences strange symptoms (she always feels very cold, for instance), hinting at a threat left over from their first adventure. Eleanor misses the camaraderie and closeness among the siblings when they had to work together. Worst, their father’s strange actions and decisions put their whole family at risk. But as the Wind Witch was banished and not eliminated, soon she returns and casts the children back into book worlds, still in pursuit of the magic book—but this time getting out will be harder. They end up tangling with gladiators, Nazis, cyborgs and more in a storyline that, despite its high levels of action, takes care to highlight the characters’ inner turmoil. What does it mean to fit in? Is the book world preferable to their crumbling reality? The prose is occasionally jumpy and chaotic, but the content always entertains. This collaboration with Columbus is Vizzini’s (1981-2013) final book; the future of the projected trilogy is unclear.

A dark action-adventure-fantasy with surprising heart. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-219249-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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