THE HOUSE OF MONTHS AND YEARS

A just-scary-enough adventure that might send readers to investigate more about real-life “calendar houses” like Amelia’s...

An awkward protagonist takes on an unconventional “haunted” house in this dark middle-grade fantasy from England.

Of course 10-year-old Amelia felt very sorry for her cousins after their parents died. But it was still completely unfair that she would have to say goodbye to her own best friend, leave her own perfect home, even share her own parents, and come to live in this horrid old house with 12 rooms and four stories. However, she soon discovers that the house is special, and once she meets not-a-ghost Horatio, who takes her on the most amazing adventures across space and time…why, that makes Amelia special too. But is the price of magic worth it? Amelia’s voice—prickly, vain, selfish, book-loving, desperately lonely, and almost as clever as she thinks she is—dominates the narrative. While ethnicity is never mentioned, every character appears to be white and professional class. As clues to the house’s real nature and Horatio’s secret agenda slowly accumulate behind the exciting (if historically inaccurate) time-traveling set pieces, a sense of menacing dread develops subtly through sinister metaphors and gruesome imagery until it is almost too late. If Amelia’s change of heart feels abrupt and her cousins’ sudden cooperation unbelievable, her solution to their dire peril is both quick-witted and satisfying.

A just-scary-enough adventure that might send readers to investigate more about real-life “calendar houses” like Amelia’s new one. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6255-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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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