A horse fantasy accessible to fans of the series who appreciate the video game it is based on.

DARKNESS FALLING

From the Soul Riders series , Vol. 3

Stakes are high as the Soul Riders try to protect their island in this third entry in the series.

Picking up where The Legend Awakens (2020) left off, Lisa, Alex, Linda, and Anne and their magical Starbreed horses have teleported back from the Secret Stone Circle where they released a magic threatening the nature of their island home, Jorvik. Their job is to protect the delicate balance of good and evil on the magical island as they fight to protect Winter Valley from flooding, fend off the evil forces of Garnok, save Lisa’s kidnapped father while steering clear of the Dark Riders, and try to help their mentor, Elizabeth, a Druid, who had been transformed into a will-o’-the-wisp by an evil witch. Like the video game the book is based on, the plot feels episodic and disjointed as it moves between Druid fantasy, science-fiction laboratory, and modern-day realism. Action happens quickly and in spurts, and the antagonists seem devoid of motivation. Still, Soul Riders fans could find satisfaction here, as the book integrates elements of the game, such as strong friendships, connection with horses, mysteries, and quests, into the storyline. It finishes with an open ending, leaving room for another installment. Earlier entries establish that most characters are White and Linda is a Pakistani immigrant.

A horse fantasy accessible to fans of the series who appreciate the video game it is based on. (map) (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5248-5971-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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