Lacks energy, finesse, and focus.

SCRAP CITY

While accompanying his father and uncle on a real estate venture to the local junkyard, 11-year-old Jerome Barnes discovers an underground town filled with sentient creatures made from discarded items.

Jerome’s scavenging leads him to Arkie, a boy fashioned out of an ice chest, an old coffee can, and other assorted objects. The two become fast friends. The odd companionship is a welcome one for Jerome, who is still grieving over the recent tragic death of both his mother and his younger brother. Arkie is equally pleased to have someone to accompany him on his adventures both aboveground and below. When the Lifestream, the force that gives life to the recycled residents of Smithytowne, is corrupted, Jerome and Arkie must work together to save the homes of humans and Scrappers alike. The premise is delicious, and the underlying message that warns against consumerism and consumption is admirable, but formulaic characters, an obvious mystery, and clunky dialogue undermine its impact. The story is further plagued by a series of plot twists that serve only to prolong the story. And while Jerome holds promise as a hero, the over-the-top villain is more cartoonish than truly frightening, destroying any real tension.

Lacks energy, finesse, and focus. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-297-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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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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