This Dahl-esque tale may not be quite scrumdiddlyumptious, but it’s a mostly entertaining one.

Jack and his grandfather, a former RAF pilot, are inseparable, even though Grandpa’s grasp on reality is slipping.

It’s 1983, and 12-year-old Jack adores his grandfather and the stories he tells of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. Problem is, Grandpa lives in his stories now. Jack knows just how to talk to Grandpa: he’s Squadron Leader, and Grandpa is Wing Commander. When Grandpa is found stuck on a church steeple thinking he’s flying his plane, the vicar suggests Twilight Towers. Jack insists Grandpa never be put in a home, but after a disastrous class trip to the history museum that ends in police custody, Grandpa is carted off to Twilight Towers, which is run by the ominously named and more than a little peculiar-seeming Miss Swine. Can Jack and Grandpa effect an escape? And what is really going on with Miss Swine and her cadre of burly nurses? Walliams walks a fine line in his attempt to make dementia funny and doesn’t always succeed. Grandpa’s misunderstanding of the world around him gets repetitious. Though Jack and Grandpa have a realistic and touching relationship, Jack acts much younger than 12. The book’s use of various typefaces and fonts for emphasis and drama, plus ample illustrations from the always splendid Ross, will keep the pages in this plump volume turning, though.

This Dahl-esque tale may not be quite scrumdiddlyumptious, but it’s a mostly entertaining one. (Historical fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-256089-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014


From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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