For all that the end feels a bit like a flattened Yorkshire pudding, getting there is a thrill a minute.


A bored lad experiences adventures that range from wonderful to horrific in a steampunk-y alternative London.

Feeling underappreciated while home from boarding school, nearly-11-year-old Jack Foster eagerly rejects his upper-middle-class existence in late Victorian London, following the mysterious Mr. Lorcan Havelock through a magical doorway into the parallel world of Londinium. Initially, Jack is enthralled by his freedom and his new environment, a “land of brass and steel and clockwork, of steam and airships….” One of his first acquaintances is Dr. Snailwater, an inventor of mechanical human beings. Jack is disappointed that the doctor wants to return Jack to London, and he’s surprised that Snailwater disapproves of Sir Lorcan. The fast-paced, escalating suspense reaches an unexpectedly dark pinnacle when Lorcan’s disembodied voice convinces Jack that recent public hangings will continue until Jack agrees to assume the role of son to the Lady, ruler of Londinium. And that’s just the beginning. It’s packed with so much action, much of it violent, that readers may well feel that the conclusion is nothing but anticlimactic. The novel’s strength lies in worldbuilding and vivid descriptions, and Anglophiles will likely enjoy the historical-cultural references.

For all that the end feels a bit like a flattened Yorkshire pudding, getting there is a thrill a minute. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9877-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Dizzyingly silly.


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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...


At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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