A scary story, minus the terror, that will make readers squirm instead of scream.

THE CASTLE OF NIGHTMARES

A deft combination of classic fright story and solid interactive artwork gives this nightmare tale an enjoyable creepiness.

A boy is haunted by nightmares: a castle on a foggy night, incorporeal voices calling, a big moon in the sky, ravens cawing. He brushes away the dreams until they are too insistent, and so he enters the dream and the Castle of Nightmares. From the start, readers will know this app will provide some good, spooky, Vincent Price fun—the music alone gives it away—but so does the artwork, all shadows, soft buttery light and doors hiding who-knows-what? The interactive features are great and ghoulish, too, as earwigs and spiders crawl out at readers, for this is very much a book, with lots of words to read as well as tapping to effect. The characters are a curious combination, echoing both the past and now: John, the hero, looks more like Geneviève Bujold than a strapping youth, and Eleanor, queen of nightmares, who has trapped child after child by luring them away in their dreams, is a punk Cruella De Vil. But the whole thing slips along rather nicely, with plenty of fun if derivative play on Alfred Hitchcock, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Sword in the Stone.

A scary story, minus the terror, that will make readers squirm instead of scream. (iPad storybook app. 7-11)

Pub Date: May 12, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Pixy Interactive

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

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 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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