A resolutely but not obnoxiously feel-good episode with well-merited just deserts all round.

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PIP BARTLETT'S GUIDE TO UNICORN TRAINING

From the Pip Bartlett series , Vol. 2

Pip, who can talk to magical animals, runs into both a major challenge and a mystery at the Triple Trident show.

Pip is naturally over the moon when the large annual gathering of mythological creatures comes to her Georgia town. But the discovery that Regent Maximus, the scene-stealing unicorn first met in Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Beasts (2015), has been entered in a competition presents her with a real poser: can she find ways to keep the hilariously skittish animal from fleeing the ring in blind panic and maybe even put in a good showing? Keeping to their avowed intentions, the co-authors trot in one adorable traditional or newly minted beast after another, from baby unicorns (or as they put it: “Baby. Unicorns”) to the sugar-loving greater rainbow mink—which produces candy-scented (but not -flavored) poo—and various occasionally invisible glimmerbeasts like the crested curly woo. All are illustrated and provided with descriptive profiles. Though so free of villains, rivals, or even momentary friction between characters that a mysterious vandal who cuts off unicorn tails turns out to have worthy reasons, the story is rescued from blandness by its humor and its uniformly good-natured multispecies cast. Pip looks white on the cover; her Latino friends Tomas and Marisol are the only characters with specific ethnic markers.

A resolutely but not obnoxiously feel-good episode with well-merited just deserts all round. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-70929-3

Page Count: 193

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits.

KNIGHTS VS. DINOSAURS

Who needs dragons when there are Terrible Lizards to be fought?

Having recklessly boasted to King Arthur and the court that he’d slain 40 dragons, Sir Erec can hardly refuse when Merlin offers him more challenging foes…and so it is that in no time (so to speak), Erec, with bookish Sir Hector, the silent and enigmatic Black Knight, and blustering Sir Bors with his thin but doughty squire, Mel, in tow, are hewing away at fearsome creatures sporting natural armor and weapons every bit as effective as knightly ones. Happily, while all the glorious mashing and bashing leads to awesome feats aplenty—who would suspect that a ravening T. Rex could be decked by a well-placed punch to the jaw?—when the dust settles neither bloodshed nor permanent injury has been dealt to either side. Better yet, not even the stunning revelation that two of the Three Stooges–style bumblers aren’t what they seem (“Anyone else here a girl?”) keeps the questers from developing into a well-knit team capable of repeatedly saving one another’s bacon. Phelan endows the all-white human cast with finely drawn, eloquently expressive faces but otherwise works in a loose, movement-filled style, pitting his clanking crew against an almost nonstop onslaught of toothy monsters in a monochrome mix of single scenes and occasional wordless sequential panels.

Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-268623-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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