Quirkily tantalizing but begging for a sequel.


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.


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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Dizzyingly silly.


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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