Fluorescent outer space? The series continues to be a color scheme in search of an appropriate subject.

BLAST OFF!

From the Fluorescent Pop! series

An extraterrestrial travels by rocket ship through a psychedelic universe.

The space creature, who wears a helmet through most of the book, enjoys a snack, marvels at a shooting star, and passes by a colorful array of planets. When this voyager arrives at what looks to be a space station, the text reads: “Where is everyone?” The page turn reveals a wild assortment of space creatures welcoming home the protagonist, who has now removed the helmet to show green skin, an orange nose, and bugle-shaped ears. Minimal text of one or two sentences per page captions each double-page scene. As with other titles in the Fluorescent Pop! series, the art is a dizzying explosion of color with Day-Glo oranges, intense yellows, radioactive greens, and hot pinks. While the planets and the shooting star are invitingly illustrated, the rocket's control room has so much going on with buttons, dials, screens, cords, and even a floating slice of pizza it proves a difficult image to read. A companion book, The Sweetest Treats, features more of the same brightly hued illustration style to catalog a variety of sugar-sweet treats. Those readers not concerned about the calorie count and the use of artificial coloring in these goodies may still find lime-green ice cream and fuchsia cupcakes less than appetizing.

Fluorescent outer space? The series continues to be a color scheme in search of an appropriate subject. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0221-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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