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A boisterous, slapstick adventure that will entertain budding readers, despite its skimpy character development.

A trio of adventurous kids and two oddball adults find unexpected treasure in this middle-grade adventure by siblings Wilhelm (The Price of Denial, 2013) and Terrat (True Shoes, 2012).

Youngsters Luis, Speedup and Hayley B. have heard the story of the pirate Jean Lafitte, and how he may have left some buried treasure in their hometown of Sandy Feet, Florida. One day, they finally decide to go after the treasure themselves, with nothing more than Hayley B.’s “intuition” and her grandfather’s shovel to aid them. Cue the arrival of big, dumb Yuke Johnson, and his only slightly smarter friend, Bug Luck—two slapstick prospectors who hopped a train car expecting to arrive in Alaska rather than Florida. All Yuke knows is digging, so when Bug gets upset about being so far south, Yuke reacts by digging up the street all the way down to the water main, sending the police chief's car up in a geyser. Of course, the kids recruit these wacky strangers to help them in their own quest to find Lafitte’s treasure. Although they don’t discover Spanish doubloons under the Sandy Feet beach, they do accidentally discover another historical treasure, and the friendships they build are an even better payoff. The diversity of the main trio of friends is refreshing. However, there are some stereotypical elements that don’t make the best use of the cast; for example, Hayley B., the only girl, is the one with intuition, and the town’s police chief is a fun-hating doughnut eater. Yuke and Bug are ridiculous and unbelievable, but that’s part of their charm. This Kickstarter-funded chapter book is designed for readers who are just moving on from beginner books, but not yet ready for larger novels. As a result, the vocabulary and high-interest topic are sure to please readers in that niche. The notes on pirate history at the end of the book extend the fun beyond the story.

A boisterous, slapstick adventure that will entertain budding readers, despite its skimpy character development.

Pub Date: April 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9857836-4-8

Page Count: 67

Publisher: Long Stride Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2015

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From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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