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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more