If Dad seems less a character than a collection of folksy forest do’s and don’ts, the author’s practice of recounting...

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LILY'S MOUNTAIN

Her dad has climbed Denali, North America’s highest mountain, six times, so when he’s reported as having fallen to his death in a deep crevasse, narrator Lily, 12, knows better than to believe it.

Lily talks her sister, Sophie, 18, into a camping trip in Denali National Park but omits the true reason for their journey: rescuing Dad. Guilt-ridden over her fight with Dad before he left, Sophie doesn’t share Lily’s conviction but likes the suggestion that Dad will hear her apology better there. Mom agrees to their trip reluctantly when reminded that Ranger Collins at the Wonder Lake campground will be there to keep an eye on them. The trip isn’t easy. At the crowded Wilderness Access Center, they’re told that Wonder has no vacancies until the following night. Lily agonizes over the delay—Dad’s now been lost for four days. At Wonder, the weather is rainy and mosquitoes are biting, but Lily’s conviction and drive persuade Sophie to take off, exhausted and sleep-deprived, on the 20-mile trek to the glacier where their father disappeared. Dad’s portrayed as a free spirit and savvy woodsman. His remembered teachings and outdoor lore sustain Lily and help the girls ford icy rivers and survive wildlife (porcupine and grizzlies) encounters. An absence of racial markers will likely have readers seeing them as white.

If Dad seems less a character than a collection of folksy forest do’s and don’ts, the author’s practice of recounting terrifying events in a matter-of-fact tone (an Alaskan specialty) renders the sisters’ journey more than sufficiently compelling. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-97800-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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