Super Schnoz smells like a winner, especially for reluctant readers.

SUPER SCHNOZ AND THE GATES OF SMELL

A prenatal pharmaceutical mix-up landed Andy with a “humongous honker” that makes him an object of ridicule at school but also gives him a “super-power worthy” sense of smell.

Bullies at his new school laugh at Andy’s nose until it gives early warning of imminent principal presence, earning Andy respect and friendship from his former tormentors. Peaceful existence is short-lived: A sudden, terrible smell fills the school, canceling classes. The kids would celebrate, except missed days will be made up during summer vacation, unless Environmental Clean Up, Inc. fixes the mess quickly. But Andy overhears a conversation that reveals all may not be on the up and up with ECU. His friends decide that he must use his nose to investigate—they design a superhero costume to turn him into crime-fighter Super Schnoz (they are sidekicks the Not-Right Brothers and Vivian). Experimenting, the team finds ingenious applications for Andy’s nose, such as the power of flight (through inflating his nostrils) and cayenne-pepper attack sneezes. Every power’s needed, as ECU’s nefarious plan will ruin much more than summer break if Super Schnoz can’t save the day. Illustrations highlight how outlandishly oversized Andy’s nose is and back up visual gags. The writing, stylistically, has enough action and danger to keep it on the right side of parody, as well as a sense of humor that deftly mixes the absurd with gross-out jokes and clever wordplay.

Super Schnoz smells like a winner, especially for reluctant readers. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7555-0

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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