Typical middle school experiences for young Padawans, featuring crushes, quizzes, and food fights highlighted by a climactic...



From the Star Wars: Jedi Academy series , Vol. 4

A midterm transfer to the Jedi Academy campus on Coruscant not only supercharges Victor Starspeeder’s dreams of becoming a Jedi Knight, but teaches him how to tell bad friends from good.

Picking up the authorial reins from Jeffrey Brown, Krosoczka continues the series with a new protagonist and a few venturesome twists. Spurned on arrival by his star-student big sister, Christina, Victor latches on to seemingly friendly Zach, who offers to show him the ropes but turns out to be a bully and a prankster trying to get into Christina’s good graces. Meanwhile, though strong in the Force, Victor has both attention and temper issues that lead to several embarrassing mishaps. These earn him forcible enrollment in drama club, which is in rehearsals for My Fair L-8E, a musical tale of human/droid love. Mishaps continue, but, as wise instructor Yoda puts it, “go on, the show must.” So it does, to a triumph. Interspersed with prose journal entries, doodles, official documents, and pages from the school newspaper, the monochrome cartoon panels that present most of the episode depict Victor, his sister, and their mom with medium-toned skin (their stepfather’s is darker yet) amid faculty and students of diverse franchise species.

Typical middle school experiences for young Padawans, featuring crushes, quizzes, and food fights highlighted by a climactic lightsaber duel in the hallway. (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-87573-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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