A lengthy trek, mostly appealing to readers who loved the first installment.


From the Kid Normal series , Vol. 2

Kid Normal and his friends save the day again in this very normal sequel.

Murph Cooper has settled happily into his school for young superheroes, hanging with his group of strangely Caped friends despite the fact that he doesn’t have a Capability of his own. Some kids and teachers think he doesn’t belong, but his other heroic qualities mean that he’s been accepted into the elite Heroes’ Alliance. His power-less alignment with powerful friends makes him a perfect target for Magpie, a villain who steals Capabilities from other heroes and wreaked havoc on the Caped community 30 years ago. Magpie is safely quarantined, but Murph finds himself an unwitting pawn in the villain’s plan to escape. The plot-by-numbers includes some flashbacks, a mystery to solve, adults who are either bumbling or helpful, and a heroic rescue, with wholly unremarkable characters driving the action. This kind of story benefits from a fast-moving plot, but chapters bog down in the tangents, digressions, and authorial asides that aim for zany and clever but quickly become cumulatively exhausting. The humor sometimes lands, but it also veers into lazy or cruel territory, especially when it treats fat people as punchlines. Brown-skinned Nellie and Asian-presenting Billy, two of Murph’s friends, again provide most of the primary-cast diversity, though much of the rest of the student body is as white as Murph.

A lengthy trek, mostly appealing to readers who loved the first installment. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0098-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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 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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