Fierce, heartfelt, and determined.


From the Sir Callie series , Vol. 1

An aspiring knight stands against the injustice at work in their own kingdom even as war with a vengeful witch looms on the horizon.

Twelve-year-old Callie longs to train in the royal capital of Helston, but the rigid laws of the realm forbid it. Only boys may pursue knighthood, and only girls may learn magic, but Callie isn’t either. When the lord chancellor demands that Callie’s father, the former king’s champion, return to Helston to train the crown prince for an upcoming tournament and the rising threat of war, Callie seizes the chance to go with him, determined to prove their worth. With the help of two unexpected new friends—the lord chancellor’s daughter and the crown prince—Callie rallies the courage to fight for change. Passing descriptions of background characters indicate diversity in the wider world; the central characters are White. Callie confronts transphobia and internalized shame. When well-meaning but flawed adults try to press for insubstantial change and unfair compromises, Callie and their friends refuse to give up or stop questioning the discrimination within their society. Gentle and affirming romance blossoms gradually throughout the story. A frank and vivid acknowledgement of menstruation stands out as an important moment of inclusion within the coming-of-age narrative. The resolution balances hope with the lingering suspense of lurking danger awaiting Callie in future adventures.

Fierce, heartfelt, and determined. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48577-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Labyrinth Road

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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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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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