Grave and solemn fantasy for readers attracted by the severe.


A girl sets out across the ice fields to rescue her mother from dragons.

Princess Anatolia’s only 12, so she figures there’s a long time left before she’ll rule the Queendom of Gall—but then dragons take her mother, Queen Una. Toli’s still traumatized from her father’s death by dragon a year ago, which she secretly, agonizingly, deems her own fault. But her mother may yet be alive, and Toli can’t see anything beyond rescuing her. In this two-mooned world of “ice upon ice, wind following wind,” dangers include giant predatory beetles that live under the ice. The dragons are brightly colored and verbal but harsh and enigmatic. Even if Toli—unwillingly accompanied by her little sister and her friend, who stow away in her sled to accompany her, and a baby dragon thrust into her care by cold coincidence—can reach the queen, the dragons may kill them all anyway. Byrne’s sober prose constructs a stern, urgent setting—Gall appears to have the world’s only human population, and it’s so isolated by temperature that it almost feels claustrophobic—eased with rare bits of warmth and humor. Some key elements of the physical geography are unclear, however. Gall is an explicitly multiracial culture; Toli and her family are white, her best friend’s brown. Disfigurement and chronic pain are, unfortunately, associated with moral ruin.

Grave and solemn fantasy for readers attracted by the severe. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19555-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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 19, 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 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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