A compelling page-turner with depth.

ESCAPE FROM LION'S HEAD

From the Unnaturals series , Vol. 2

In a futuristic city where the wealthy live in high towers above the poisonous air and citizens are entertained by death matches between hybridized animals, two teens defy the government in hopes of changing their world.

Marcus Lund, an idealistic resident of the Sky Towers, and Leesa Khan, a street-smart inhabitant of the underground community of the Drain, work together to free the hybridized animals from NuFormz, the evil corporation responsible for their mutations. Castor, half–German shepherd and half-eagle, must lead his band of misfits through the broken city toward the Greenplains. But along the way, they will need to fight mutants determined to kill them and humans determined to recage them. Only Kozmo, a combination of bat and fox, holds some clue about what the future may have in store. This clever dystopic fantasy successfully juggles a host of both human and animal voices. The exploration of subjective morality gives this story heart and a unique depth. However, diversity resides primarily with the animal characters; Richardson’s chapter-head illustrations represent both Marcus and Leesa with white skin, and aside from her last name, there’s no real indication of ethnicity or race. While the government’s evil machinations feel over-the-top, the combination of endearing hybrids and complex humans makes this a series worth investing in.

A compelling page-turner with depth. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-225757-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life.

ODDER

A Monterey Bay sea otter comes of age.

Odder’s mom told her to stay away from sharks, humans, and anything else she didn’t understand, but after saving her friend Kairi from a shark attack, she encounters all three. Injured herself during the rescue, Odder ends up recuperating at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or Highwater as the otters call it, where she once lived as a young orphaned pup. Last time, the humans helped her reintegrate into the wild, but because of her injuries this time the outcome might be different. Soon Kairi is there too, stricken with “the shaking sickness” and having lost her newborn pup. Now Kairi is fostering a new pup, and soon one is introduced to an initially reluctant Odder in hopes that she will help raise it so it can return to the wild. The free verse effortlessly weaves in scientific information, giving Odder a voice without overly anthropomorphizing any of the animals. The natural appeal of sea otters will draw readers in, but the book doesn’t shy away from real-world threats such as predators, disease, and pollution. Loosely based on the stories of real sea otters rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this novel will give readers lots to talk about, but uneven pacing and a rushed ending may leave some unsatisfied. Charming black-and-white spot art captures the world and life of the sea.

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life. (glossary, author’s note, bibliography, resources) (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-14742-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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