Escapist fun for space-opera fans.

OUT OF THIS WORLD

Jack has long wondered why his family moves every year and why his parents treat him more like a military recruit than a kid—now he’s about to find out.

No question, Jack’s parents are weird. His dad’s survival training includes surprise attacks launched at dawn for Jack to evade; his mom, an academic coach, is disappointed in him—he can’t even recite Shakespeare’s complete works. At school, Jack daydreams about cool, pretty Jodie; evades seriously uncool, asthmatic Thomas; and enjoys sketching strange creatures inhabiting far-flung planets in outer space. When Thomas shows up with a celebratory cake on Jack’s otherwise uncelebrated 12th birthday, Jack can’t prevent Thomas from exploring his house until they stumble upon strange devices in the attic that Thomas—ignoring Jack’s frantic warning—can’t resist touching. A chain of events ensues that leads to actual outer space, landing the boys in more trouble than they can handle. Never fear: Allies, human and otherwise, are at hand to teach lessons in teamwork. (Human characters skew white.) At times, slapdash execution and jarring stylistic inconsistencies threaten to derail this series opener. The tone veers from subversively sardonic (as in William Sleator’s Interstellar Pig, 1984) to drolly whimsical (à la Douglas Adams), with echoes from the Star Wars franchise. If not in top form here, Wooding’s never dull; the fast-paced plot features his signature twists and turns.

Escapist fun for space-opera fans. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-28934-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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