A suspenseful tour for nature-loving middle graders.

ESCAPE GALÁPAGOS

From the Wonder List Adventures series

A trip to the Galápagos can be the adventure of a lifetime, but for Ezzy Skylar, it provides more adventure than she would ever want.

The Galápagos were at the top of Ezzy’s deceased, adventuresome mother’s to-visit list, and Ezzy, her father, and her little brother have embarked on a weeklong cruise in her memory. Luke loves animals, but Ezzy’s frankly afraid of anything wild, and in the Galápagos, the fearless wildlife are everywhere. Marine scientist Prager (The Shark Whisperer, 2014, etc.) knows these Ecuadorian islands well; she introduces many of their most interesting creatures while showing readers Ezzy’s discomfort. On their second full day out, animals become the least of her fears when smugglers hijack their ship. Their leader has big plans: He’s been capturing the unsuspecting animals for a Galápagos theme park and some genetic manipulation. Ezzy’s father, suspicious that the hijackers do not intend to let the paying passengers survive, sends his children off for a third day of island hikes with instructions not to return. Against all regulations, they and new friend Aiden scramble through Isabela Island’s overgrown interior and past an exploding volcano to find help. There’s little character development but plentiful adventure. The premise and setting of this series opener are convincing, almost making up for a too-convenient resolution. Ezzy, her family, Aiden, and the bad guys all seem to present white; the support staff is Ecuadorian.

A suspenseful tour for nature-loving middle graders. (author’s note, acknowledgments, illustrations not seen) (Adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943431-55-7

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Tumblehome Learning

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

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

Did you like this book?

more