A thoughtful, exciting work with pleasing rhyme and rhythm; a nice addition to Arthurian literature for kids.


In rhyming verse, this debut children’s book tells how the legendary King Arthur, Sir Gawain, and Sir Lancelot began their journeys.

Every hero needs an origin story, and Bloom’s debut children’s book offers those of a sovereign and two knights of the Round Table. The basics are familiar: the sword in the stone, Arthur’s discovery of his kingship, King Lot’s opposition and his son Gawain’s choice to defy his father and serve Arthur, the forming of the Round Table and its “new rules for knights,” and Lancelot’s battle against a giant before he joins Arthur’s men. Each section centers on a personal test of courage. After pulling the sword from the stone, for example, young Arthur—moments ago only a squire—must face skeptical, battle-hardened warriors, claim the crown, and remind them they vowed to serve his father, the king: “Now as his son I call on you / To live up to your word! / Now kneel, and take your oaths again / Before my royal sword!” It takes moral courage, too, for Gawain to stand by his oath and defend Arthur; he’s also thoughtful about the destructiveness of war. And although Lancelot has never been in a real fight and wonders whether he’ll be scared, he fights bravely in a long, hard-fought battle, even when his shield is split. Bloom keeps the story moving along briskly, bringing in plenty of emotion and excitement along with musings on oaths, loyalty, and courage. The battle scene with Lancelot, the giant, and other knights is particularly dramatic and clearly told. The verse, which mostly scans well, is generally written in quatrains rhyming ABCB, though the occasional double rhymes of ABAB stanzas are effective, as when Lancelot encounters an enemy soldier: “But he looked up and spotted me / With my spear aimed at his face / And he decided he’d rather be / In some other, safer, place.” The book lacks illustrations, though, which would have added another dimension to the text.

A thoughtful, exciting work with pleasing rhyme and rhythm; a nice addition to Arthurian literature for kids.

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4809-4225-7

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?