Original, chilling, atmospheric mystery with a heroine of remarkable mettle.

TWELVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

As 1899 draws to a close, a savvy young writer of gothic tales becomes embroiled in a perplexing mystery in this first volume of a proposed trilogy.

Since inheriting the Penny Dreadful, 13-year-old orphan Penelope Tredwell has “single-handedly acted as the magazine’s editor, lead author, and publisher,” though she hides her true identity behind the pseudonym Montgomery Flinch. Now the “most celebrated author in Britain,” Penelope hires an actor to impersonate Flinch to promote sales. Receiving an urgent plea from the superintendent of Bedlam, the lunatic asylum, for Flinch’s assistance, Penelope sees the potential for her next horror story. Masquerading as Flinch’s niece, Penelope investigates, intrigued by accounts of patients arising in a trance at 12 minutes to midnight each night to compulsively write delirious, prophetic ramblings. Penelope’s investigation leads her to reclusive Lady Cambridge, aka the Spider Lady of South Kensington, whose diabolical plot to control the future threatens to plunge London into madness. Bold and intelligent beyond her years, Penelope pursues Lady Cambridge into London’s darkest places, facing gothic horrors greater than any she has written. Edge successfully delivers his own penny dreadful in the riveting style of a Victorian mystery.

Original, chilling, atmospheric mystery with a heroine of remarkable mettle. (Historical mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8133-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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