A mostly strong magical adventure in the grand tradition.

LOST CHILDREN OF THE FAR ISLANDS

The first sentence grabs readers right away: “On May 23, exactly one month before Gustavia and Leomaris Brennan’s eleventh birthday, their mother became terribly, mysteriously ill.”

The promise of the sentence is fulfilled as Gus, Leo and their selectively mute little sister, Ila, discover and battle the source of their mother’s illness, simultaneously learning of their own magical powers. Filtered primarily through Gus’ point of view, the third-person narration is full of action, with cliffhangers ending most chapters. In a nice feminist touch, Gus is the active twin; Leo, the bookworm. The children are whisked away from their parents to help the Móraí—their ancient, powerful uber–great-grandmother—defeat a monster who has already wreaked great havoc on the Atlantic coast. Plot, characters, Celtic folklore and many magical elements—especially surrounding the servant called “the Bedell”—are reminiscent of works by P.L. Travers and Susan Cooper. Divergence from these classics lies in the supernatural abilities of the children (and the Bedell) to become other animals and to use this power in their quest. The strongest, most believable scenes in this cinematic book take readers firmly into the realm of the fantastic, with their vivid descriptions of such wonders as a living, breathing book and swimming and communicating as seals. In contrast, some of the realistic scenes are awkward and clichéd. Appropriately interspersed scientific facts are an added plus.

A mostly strong magical adventure in the grand tradition. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-87091-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.

SCAREDY CAT

Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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