A fast-paced, funny, and adventurous read.



Vikings, Saxons, and dragons meet in this middle-grade fantasy novel sprinkled with humor and magic.

All 13-year-old Lassa Erikson wants is to be a quiet, studious apprentice alchemist in Denmark, but he and his brother, Sven, are conscripted into the Viking army and find themselves heading to fight the infamous Saxon Lord Mordred. The kids know they have no place in the company of the fiercest warriors they’ve ever seen, and they try to hide during their first battle. But after Lassa accidently kills Mordred, he’s hailed as a hero, deemed a fierce “berserker,” and given a prominent position in a Viking group that aims to rescue King Magnus, who’s imprisoned in England. Meanwhile, in English King Harold’s castle, 14-year-old Princess Ann would rather be a warrior than be married off for political purposes. Her opportunity arises when hooded figures, apparently Norsemen, invade the castle and capture her father and sister. Ann escapes to get Mordred’s help—not knowing he’s already dead—and ends up joining Lassa’s group of warriors to fight a common enemy. Both kings have been captured by a mysterious half-man, half-dragon cult leader who has witches and druids under his control. This short, fun, humorous novel feels like a cross between Horrible Histories and Game of Thrones, and it deftly combines elements of a comedy of errors and a fantasy epic. It also features a plethora of lovable secondary characters, but Ann and Lassa are the real draws, the former as a tough, loyal fighter, and the latter as a coward-turned–brave hero who uses his scientific knowledge to face problems. The comedic tone is quite goofy at some points, even in the face of very real danger, and the story is almost entirely ahistorical, but readers likely won’t be bothered by either of these factors.

A fast-paced, funny, and adventurous read.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2020


Page Count: 176

Publisher: Golden Productions LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


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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