Still, how the friends proceed makes for an amiable tale and a subtly scathing critique on today’s exploitative media...



Busy monster-chasing adventures in an alternate-universe Hollywood, California.

Brown introduces 11-year-old buddies Tommy Wainwright, Collen “Spike” Hernandez, and Karim Khalil, who’s the son of legendary fantastic-beast hunter and former TV star Yousef “The Fang” Khalil. What starts as the threesome trapping—and Tommy taking a selfie with—a basilisk at their school moves to their successfully catching a mischievous gremlin before failing to nab a two-toed snipe. Along the way, they ensnare the attention of AppVenture, an online monster-elimination service with some questionable branding and job practices, including hiring the underage trio. Characterization is uneven. The author develops Tommy from a white male “beefcake” to a loving big brother who uses his AppVenture earnings to send his 8-year-old sister to Adventure Camp and Karim (who presents black) from a son scared of his own—and his father’s—shadow to a young person claiming his legacy. Unfortunately, Spike comes across as a person with anti-social personality disorder in the guise of a plucky Latina heroine who deeply resents her father, Luis, who divorced her mother, moved across the country, and resurfaces as an employee at AppVenture. This mixes with some unnecessary punching-down jokes about suing for fat discrimination and a tiresome running gag about Tommy’s love for the protein product Brotein.

Still, how the friends proceed makes for an amiable tale and a subtly scathing critique on today’s exploitative media culture and gig economy. (Science fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31851-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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