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From the Hypnotists series , Vol. 2

Not Korman’s best but good for a summer read.

A new identity can’t keep Jackson Opus and his parents out of harm’s way.

After refusing to help Elias Mako and his Sentia Institute mesmerists rig an election in The Hypnotists (2013), Jax and his parents move from New York City to Haywood, Connecticut, and change their name from Opus to Magnus. They are in hiding from Mako and his young thugs with the help of Axel Braintree, head of the Sandman’s Guild (a kind of 12-step group for hypnotists to keep them on the straight and narrow). But it’s hard for Jax to keep his head down when his color-changing gaze and an offhand comment can send anyone into a mind-controlled trance. When dying media tycoon Avery Quackenbush, who’s on to Jax’s identity, approaches the middle schooler with an offer he can’t refuse, Jax takes on the task of hypnotizing Quackenbush to extend his life—against Braintree’s advice. But if Quackenbush has figured out who Jax is, can Mako and the FBI be far behind? Though it’s less hypnotism and more telepathic mind control that acts as a catalyst to the tale, Korman’s second light and action-oriented tale about Jax Opus will please fans of the first or his other short suspense trilogies. Though there’s not much character depth, and it’s a bit slow at times, there are still a couple of surprises. 

Not Korman’s best but good for a summer read. (Suspense fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50329-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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