Fresh and original.

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EMBER AND THE ICE DRAGONS

Twelve-year-old Ember tries to save ice dragons and learns her own strength along the way.

Infant fire dragon Ember is discovered in Wales by Lionel St. George, a brilliant but error-prone Stormancer and Magician, near the bodies of her slain, fire-dragon parents, hunted down for their valuable scales. To protect her, Lionel casts a spell to disguise Ember as a human child, and she grows up at Chesterfield University, where Lionel teaches. In human form, Ember has the fire dragon’s ability to create fire, but she can’t control it. Distraught after she burns Lionel’s office, Ember decides to live in Antarctica at the research station Lionel’s sister runs. Fawcett’s story starts out slowly, with a tad too much explanation, but the plot picks up intriguingly as Ember, homesick in Antarctica, is befriended by Nisha, the child of one of the station’s scientists, and the mysterious orphan Moss. When Ember learns that there is to be a Winterglass Hunt to kill ice dragons for their scales, she is horrified and determines to sabotage it. Neatly sidestepping tropes and templates, Fawcett’s story is full of original details that add depth to the fairly straightforward plot (Montgomery, the enchanted, cantankerous doorknob, is a hoot). But it is the richly nuanced primary and secondary characters, as well as the evenhanded inclusion of females as intelligent scientists, that give the story its richness. The cast is racially varied; Ember, her adoptive family, and Moss read as white while Nisha has brown skin.

Fresh and original. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285451-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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