THE LOST WONDERLAND DIARIES

A fun and clever return to Wonderland.

Wonderland is in danger, and two unlikely heroes must work together to save it.

San Jose eighth graders Celia and Tyrus have barely just met at the library when they find the lost diaries of Charles Dodgson—aka Lewis Carroll, narrator Celia’s great-great-great-great-uncle—in which the author recorded his very real travels into the parallel world of Wonderland. When the kids accidentally open a doorway to Wonderland, they discover it has changed a lot since the time Carroll visited, and the place is a much darker, more dangerous world for its unhappy inhabitants, who live under the threat of a nefarious hauntstrosity. Tyrus is a bookworm and wordsmith while Celia is a math and logic whiz, and the story puts their newly minted friendship to the test as they learn to work together and use their skills to solve puzzles and riddles, running against time to save Wonderland and get back to their own world. Savage pays homage to Carroll’s world with imagination as well as a notable love for math and literature while adding his own ingenious twists to the original. Both Celia and Tyrus struggle with bullying back home, and Celia’s dyslexia is a constant source of frustration when other kids underestimate her intelligence, and the book ultimately offers a message of empowerment and self-love. Tyrus is brown-skinned and Celia is assumed White.

A fun and clever return to Wonderland. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62972-786-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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