Overall, a fun read that could have benefited from less preaching and more background research.

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REBELS WITH A CAUSE

From the Max Einstein series

Max Einstein is “the smartest girl in the world.” But is she smart enough to solve the globe’s most pressing problems?

The child genius is in hiding in New York City, and she’s bored out of her mind. The leader of a group of child geniuses that formed the Change Makers Institute, Max normally spends her time traveling around the world trying to solve the Earth’s most devastating problems. But after evil Dr. Zimm, founder and leader of the nefarious organization called the Corp, tried to kidnap her in series opener The Genius Experiment (2018), she was forced to go into hiding. When her friend and fellow genius Siobhan asks Max to join her on a mission to Siobhan’s home country of Ireland, where water contamination is making Siobhan’s family and friends sick, Max finally gets a chance to get back in the game. But as she travels from Ireland to India with her group of friends, trying to solve water-contamination and -shortage issues, she’s also running away from the Corp, a reality that makes Max wonder if her presence on the team—and the solutions she devises—are doing more harm than good. This fast-paced story features a diverse team of protagonists that realistically tackles some of the world’s most pressing social-justice issues. While it is mostly entertaining, the insertion of scientific principles and ethical considerations often feels out of place and heavy handed, and some of the details included about India are incorrect.

Overall, a fun read that could have benefited from less preaching and more background research. (Thriller. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-48816-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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SPACE CASE

From the Moon Base Alpha series , Vol. 1

When Dr. Holtz’s body is discovered just outside the lunar colony, everyone assumes he made a mistake putting on his spacesuit—but 12-year-old Dashiell “Dash” Gibson has reason to believe this was no accident.

Earth’s first space base has been a living hell for Dash. There’s not much to do on the moon besides schoolwork and virtual-reality gaming, and there’s only a handful of kids his age up there with him. The chance to solve a murder is exactly the type of excitement Dash needs. As clues are found and secrets are uncovered, Dash comes to understand that some of the base’s residents aren’t what they seem to be. With a small cast of characters supplying an excellent variety of suspects, Gibbs creates the best kind of “murder on a train” mystery. The genius, however, is putting the train in space. Closed quarters and techno–mumbo-jumbo add delightful color to the proceedings. Thankfully, the author doesn’t let the high-concept setting overshadow the novel’s mystery. The whodunit is smartly paced and intricately plotted. Best of all, the reveal is actually worth all the buildup. Thrillers too often fly off the rails in their final moments, but the author’s steady hand keeps everything here on track.

Fully absorbing. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9486-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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