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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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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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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