Jake Mathews' “AWESOMENESS” is legit, and fans will be clamoring for more.


From the Just Jake series , Vol. 2

Wunderkind Marcionette returns with another tale about his gifted preteen, Just Jake (2014).

After a rocky start, Jake Mathews finally feels at home among the other gifted “misfits” in Mrs. Pilsen’s sixth-grade class at Kinney Elementary. But just as he gets his groove back, Jake’s teacher goes and delivers a baby in the middle of the year, leaving Jake and the rest of the class in the hands of Ms. Cane, a pink-haired, tattooed, ex–prison guard substitute. Even his older sister, Alexis, who has yet to lose or shy away from a battle, pales in comparison to Ms. Cane. In this sequel, Marcionette allows a well-developed and engaging cast of secondary characters to share the spotlight with Jake as he struggles to survive twin antagonists: the maniacal substitute, who plots to use her students to launch a pet-grooming business in order to fund her retirement, and his evil sister, who’s determined to exact revenge on him for blowing her cover at the dinner table. Things grow even more interesting when his worlds collide and Alexis and Ms. Cane join forces. This high-concept novel is laugh-out-loud funny and filled with collaged-in illustrations, screen shots and even a few rap lyrics, not only adding to the humor, but also breaking up the text in a way that may attract less-confident readers.

Jake Mathews' “AWESOMENESS” is legit, and fans will be clamoring for more. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-46693-4

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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

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There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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