Dewey like this? Of course, and so will upper-elementary and middle school readers and gamers alike.



From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series , Vol. 2

Can the hometown champions defeat teams from around the country in a new contest at Mr. Lemoncello’s fantastic library?

Responding to millions of requests, the visionary library-builder organizes a new competition, a “duodecimalthon” of 12 library-related games. The action in this engaging sequel begins slowly with a stage-setting introduction of the characters and the incredible library in Alexandria, Ohio, for readers who didn't devour Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (2013). But once the contestants have gathered and the Olympics-styled games begin, puns, puzzles, and book references come thick and fast. Suspense builds: Mr. Lemoncello's dream is in danger, and Kyle Keeley and his eighth-grade teammates have formidable rivals. This celebration of libraries, librarians, books, and the right to read doesn't quite have the exuberance of the first, perhaps because it is so carefully constructed to make the author's point. But it has characters with encyclopedic knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System and popular children’s books, and it has Mr. Lemoncello’s lavish costumes, inventive games, and beyond state-of-the-art technology. The plot twists and turns before the appropriately satisfying end. Grabenstein obligingly provides a long list of good books to read (mentioned in the text) and challenges readers to find the sources of the quotations from banned books embedded in the narrative.

Dewey like this? Of course, and so will upper-elementary and middle school readers and gamers alike. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51040-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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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.


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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