Even though there’s an awful lot of brand-dropping (skeptics may wonder if Apple paid for product placement), it still goes...

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THE LEFT BEHINDS

AND THE IPHONE THAT SAVED GEORGE WASHINGTON

From the Left Behinds series , Vol. 1

Debut novelist Potter inaugurates a series with a new twist on time travel.

Who needs H.G. Wells’ big, clunky time machine when an Apple iPhone app will do the trick? Unfortunately, it’s a gigantic mistake that 12-year-old Mel and his classmates Brandon and Bev end up in a stable in 1776 with Gen. George Washington lying stone-cold dead in one of the stalls. The kids are the Left Behinds, students at the snooty Fredericksville School who have nowhere to go during winter break since their parents are rich, successful and too busy to be at home for them. An iTime app has brought them to the farm, but this cannot be: Washington has to cross the Delaware soon, the American Revolution must go on, and who is that Hessian guy with a German Luger (not patented for another 100-plus years)? Even worse, the phone is down to 5 percent power. But Benjamin Franklin comes to the rescue with electricity, and the trio must figure out what to do about George Washington and how to return to the 21st century. Mel’s first-person narrative is engaging, the plot is fast-paced, and plenty of history is woven into the tale.

Even though there’s an awful lot of brand-dropping (skeptics may wonder if Apple paid for product placement), it still goes down easier than the similarly themed Rush Revere books . (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-39056-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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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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