Unfolding with the clarity of a fairy tale, this sure-footed debut casts a delightfully spooky spell.

THE UNADOPTABLES

Targeted in a wicked scheme, five resourceful kids flee their orphanage in 1892 Amsterdam.

Each longs to be adopted, but would-be parents reject them when they see the kids’ atypical attributes: Lotta’s 12 fingers, Egg’s East Asian ancestry (other characters default to white), Fenna’s muteness, clumsy Sem’s ears, and Milou’s wild ferocity. That is, until sinister Meneer Rotman sees their remarkable gifts—but Milou’s special sense warns her that Rotman’s evil. Indeed: They discover he intends to buy them as slave labor to crew his ship. Milou, who keeps a Book of Theories regarding why her birth family hasn’t claimed her, persuades them to escape to the puppet-making Poppenmaker family she’s sure she belongs to. Loyal if not convinced, the others join her. Lotta’s math and Egg’s cartographic acumen help them follow coordinates on Milou’s mysterious timepiece to the Poppenmakers’ windmill home and puppet theater, now abandoned. Thanks to Lotta’s technical ingenuity, Egg’s artistry, Fenna’s culinary prowess, and Sem’s needlework—assisted by clockmaker and dike warden Edda Finkelstein—it’s almost home. Then Milou forgets the other orphans have family longings, and the orphans discover Rotman has not forgotten them….While the vivid, Dickensian setting—grim orphanage, icy mists, and shadowy dockyards—and quaint clockwork creations and life-size puppets spin a web of Gothic creepiness, the bonds among this found family of lively orphans add plenty of warmth and light.

Unfolding with the clarity of a fairy tale, this sure-footed debut casts a delightfully spooky spell. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11693-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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An enthralling fantasy adventure full of bravery, love, and humor.

THE MARVELLERS

A Black girl embarks on an unprecedented journey to tap deeper into her magic.

Ella Durand is an 11-year-old from New Orleans, where she lives with her conjure-politician father, notorious Conjuror mother, grandmother, and little sister, Winnie. Ella makes history as the first Conjuror to be accepted into the Arcanum Training Institute, where she can learn to become a Marveller. Ella is eager to discover her marvel and to find out more about a type of magic so different from what she has grown up with, but integrating into this new school turns out to be harder than she hoped. Fortunately, she makes new friends, Jason and Brigit, who help her better navigate life at the school. After Ella’s family becomes embroiled in controversy due to allegations of their connection to an infamous escaped criminal and her teacher and mentor, Masterji Thakur, goes missing, she needs her friends’ help to help set things right. Clayton does a wonderful job with skillful worldbuilding that is bolstered by vivid, detailed descriptions and smart, witty prose, and readers will be swept up in the magic. The novel celebrates the diverse peoples and customs that make up Ella’s world. Parallels between the world of the Marvellers and real-world history around discrimination, privilege, marginalization, and stereotyping are clear without being heavy-handed. A charming cast and captivating storylines make this a breath of fresh air.

An enthralling fantasy adventure full of bravery, love, and humor. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-17494-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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