While the adventure may be worth the wait, Hicks would be well-advised to tighten up his next book.


From the Shakespeare Mysteries series , Vol. 2

Colophon Letterford and her cousin Julian tour Oxford and Cambridge and take to the London sewers to find whatever it takes to refute claims that the family’s new-found Shakespeare manuscripts are fraudulent.

This sequel to The Shakespeare Mysteries (2012) opens with a 16th-century prologue starring a soon-to-be-dead Christopher Marlowe, but the action really begins in a storage locker, where the man hired to catalog the manuscripts is revealed to be a thief. The camera then shifts to Coly’s home in Georgia shortly after the cousins’ last adventure. The cataloger has announced that the documents may be forgeries. Once again, a man identified only as Treemont is scheming to take control of the family publishing company. Readers will be justifiably confused by this array of apparent bad guys. When Coly leaves for London, however, her adventures prove to have been worth waiting for. Cutting suddenly from one perspective to another, this modern mystery makes use of Internet connectivity and old-fashioned stealth snooping. What began as a mystery ends with found treasure, and an epilogue seems to offer grounds for yet another installment. Each chapter opens with a word that Shakespeare coined or first used; an appendix provides the context for the word. It’s a pity there isn’t a more substantial explanation about the posited Shakespeare/Marlowe connection, though.

While the adventure may be worth the wait, Hicks would be well-advised to tighten up his next book. (Adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-83953-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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