Quirkily tantalizing but begging for a sequel.

FINDERS CREEPERS

From the Half Past Peculiar series , Vol. 1

The Family Fetch thrives on adventure, but this may be their biggest one yet.

The Fetch twins—rambunctious, athletic Esmeralda and bookish, cautious Atticus—run a pet-finding service with a “ninety-nine percent success rate.” The only thing standing between them and 100% is the shadow of their own dog, Dunnsworth, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances many years ago. The preternaturally responsible twins are left to their own devices most of the time, as their parents (an archaeologist and a deep-sea explorer) gallivant off on their own adventures. Cleaning the basement one day, the twins discover an ancient lost-dog flyer put up by a family completely unknown to them—and in trying to unravel the mystery, they’re drawn into a world of magic and monsters beyond anything they could have ever imagined. Fridolfs’ prose is simple but formal, giving the narrative a timeless air. The story effectively combines collaged images, graphic-novel sequences, and traditional prose. Nguyen’s monochrome illustrations are charmingly quirky, pets and settings depicted with photographic realism alongside balloon-headed people. The story proceeds at a leisurely clip but tries to fit too many plot threads into too short a space; the latter half of the story, which incorporates the fantasy world, is not explained, leaving readers feeling as lost as the twins when thrown into that world.

Quirkily tantalizing but begging for a sequel. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-25446-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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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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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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