The book is actually quite short, but it turns out to be exactly the perfect length.

THE MANY WORLDS OF ALBIE BRIGHT

In theory, this adventure based in quantum physics could have gone on for another 100 chapters. In theory, it could have kept going forever.

The structure of the book is simple: Albie, an English lad, visits a parallel world, and then he visits another one. He does this by climbing inside a tiny Schrödinger box (the kind that held Schrödinger’s cat). It’s powered by something Albie calls Quantum Banana Theory. Scientists might quibble about the details. It really operates on what could be called the “Roger Rabbit principle”: it works because it’s funny. But like most comedies, the novel is based around a tragedy. Albie’s particle-physicist mother died two weeks before the start of the book, and he’s looking for a world where he can talk to her again. Many of Albie’s adventures are amusing or suspenseful, but each world is a little sadder than the last, because Albie’s mother is never there. Every world feels distinct and surprising, but Edge’s writing does have one odd quirk: a lack of physical description. Readers will need to use deductive reasoning to guess the races of most characters: Albie has green eyes and dark-brown hair, implying that he is white, and his best friend is a British-Asian boy named Kiran Ahmed. Albie’s reunion with his mother, when it comes, is utterly heartbreaking, and readers may be grateful they had so many chapters to prepare for it.

The book is actually quite short, but it turns out to be exactly the perfect length. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1357-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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