FENRIS & MOTT

Thrilling and touching in equal measure.

“Things done could not be undone. Things destroyed could not be undestroyed. But sometimes they could be fixed.”

There’s a lot Mott, a young girl of Indonesian and Dutch descent, doesn’t expect about the abandoned puppy she finds. She doesn’t expect to be able to keep him. She doesn’t expect him to be a wolf. And she certainly doesn’t expect that wolf to be Fenris of Norse mythology: god-foe, moon-eater, ender of worlds. The very universe seems destined for destruction, brought about by Fenris, but Mott made a promise to keep Fenris safe, and she knows only too well the pain of broken oaths. In this Rick Riordan–esque epic, modern and ancient worlds collide in a vividly sketched adventure that begs to be adapted for the screen. The exhilarating pace comes somewhat at the expense of characterization. Only toward the very end, however, does this cause some believability to be lost as deeper emotions and motivations and some themes remain loosely explored. Still, the text strikes a remarkable balance between the hollowness of inevitable destruction and the hope hiding within the darkest voids. Unlike with most stories of this type, readers will at times be utterly convinced that Mott will fail, which only makes her determination to do right by her vows more rewarding to witness. The idea of the downfall of the world feels all too relevant, and the book imparts a subtle warning to readers that while the inevitable may be delayed, it can never truly be reversed.

Thrilling and touching in equal measure. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-297063-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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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