This novel touches on sensitive and tragic moments in history and gives them fantastical remediation for a provocative,...

A CRACK IN THE SEA

In the “second world” dwell people who did not arrive of their own volition. But in that world exist communities and harmony, between and among the Raftworlders (with dark brown skin and tightly curled hair) and the Islanders (with lighter-brown skin and straight hair).

Access to the second world is gained through a portal, which cannot be mapped, tracked, or predicted. This novel relates the stories of three different sets of relatives, whose stories intertwine. First up are Islanders Pip and Kinchen. Pip has the gift of talking to fishes, a gift the Raft King—ruler of Raftworld—is dangerously desperate to use so that he and his people can find the portal and leave the second world. There are also Venus and her twin brother, Swimmer—enslaved people held on a ship headed for Jamaica in 1781. They escape lives of bondage and heartbreaking cruelty via the portal to the second world. Finally, readers meet Thanh and Sang, a brother and sister trying to escape war-torn Vietnam on a small boat, when a violent storm and a brutal pirate attack threaten their survival. Bouwman takes these disparate stories and fits the pieces of her puzzle together in pleasantly surprising ways, down to the very end. Shimizu’s black-and-white illustrations are lovely and vital to picturing the different worlds and moments conjured by the author.

This novel touches on sensitive and tragic moments in history and gives them fantastical remediation for a provocative, immersive read. (afterword, bibliography) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54519-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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