PRINCE ALBERT AND THE DOOMSDAY DEVICE

An urchin, a prince and the prince’s guards protect Victorian England from a threat to its monarchy in this debut novel.

In a small village in 1851, there are no parents, having been forced to abandon their children by order of the Queen. Jack, the oldest of the children, takes it upon himself to travel to London in search of his father, a metallurgist, like many of the village’s missing residents. The boy’s simple journey to the heart of England becomes a grand adventure, as he eventually must make his way on foot and with no money. Along the way, Jack befriends a French engineer named Jules and makes an unlikely ally in Prince Albert. The prince and the five guards who constitute the PRG (Prince’s Royal Guard) seek a device in the hands of Sir Derek Gilman, the secretary of the army, and his son, Sir Daniel, not fully aware of the clandestine group known as the Prime and its nefarious plot. An abundance of steampunk machinery takes center stage, some of it detailed and some pure enigma, including the device; its true design largely unknown. The PRG and even the prince himself display great strength and unfaltering spirit—one of the guards is Milena, a girl a mere 16 years of age—but Jack shines brightest, with the curiosity of a child and the courage of a giant. Author London’s book seems aimed at young adult readers, but it’s free of condescension and is wholly gratifying rather than stripped of components in an effort to achieve simplicity. The novel concludes by teasing a subsequent book with Prince Albert and Jack, both characters whose return would be most welcome. Lyrically descriptive and unabashedly steampunk; the first of what promises to be a rewarding series of novels.

 

Pub Date: July 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615510569

Page Count: 296

Publisher: ZOVA

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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 LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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