LOOKING FOR JULIETTE

In their second appearance, the likable ``Investigators of the Unknown'' (introduced in The Gold Dust Letters, p. 399) now include withdrawn classmate Walter Kew, while former protagonist Angela is offstage in Mexico, leaving her cat Juliette in animal- lover Poco's care. When Juliette vanishes after a nearly fatal brush with a speeding car, the three friends (with Georgina trying to overcome her normal incredulity) seek clues to her whereabouts with Walter's Ouija board. Concluding that a cryptic message (``deadly enemy'') refers to a retired teacher now living, as caretaker, over Angela's garage, the three shadow her- -only to discover that (like Angela's dad in the first book) she's a kindly soul. The witchy manifestations that have excited their curiosity and fear all have ordinary explanations. In the end, as cats do, Juliette turns up on her own, while the mystery of Walter's parentage is left hanging as a teaser for a sequel. Newbery Honorwinner Lisle adds spark to the predictable goings- on with lively, idiosyncratic characterizations and spooky trimmings. Easy, good-quality fare. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-531-06870-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE WRATH OF THE WICKED WEDGIE WOMAN

Trying to salvage failing grades, George and Harold use their handy 3-D Hypno Ring on termagant teacher Ms. Ribble—and succeed only in creating a supervillain with a medusa-like ’do and a yen to conquer the world with wedgie power. Using a pair of robot sidekicks and plenty of spray starch, she even overcomes Captain Underpants. Is it curtains (or rather, wedgies) for all of us? Can the redoubtable fourth graders rescue the Waistband Warrior (a.k.a. Principal Krupp) and find a way to save the day? Well, duh. Not, of course, without an epic battle waged in low-budget Flip-O-Rama, plus no fewer than three homemade comics, including an “Origin of Captain Underpants” in which we learn that his home planet of Underpantyworld was destroyed by the . . . wait for it . . . “Starch Ship Enterprize.” As in the previous four episodes, neither the pace nor the funky humor (“Diapers and toilets and poop . . . oh my!”) lets up for a moment. Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of staleness. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-04999-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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